Tag Archives: WWII

Gentlehands

Pic courtesy of fantasticfiction.co.uk

M.E. Kerr -1978

What happens to all of those moderately successful short fiction books from decades past? I can tell that some of the titles one sees at Borders or on the library shelf will not live on past their first printing, but where do these stories go? Are they stored away in giant publishers’ archives or are they gathering dust on shelves of no-longer children or filling up boxes at thrift stores and rummage sales? Surprising that fiction could follow the way of fashion, trends ruling the tides of the market. A story seems less ephemeral than a cut of fabric to me.

Pretty good, I liked this book. One strength is how the author approaches her “imparted morals” on what makes a good or bad person and how to grow up and get your act together. I especially like the parallel drawn between the assumption that a German in Germany was responsible at least passively for the conflict and the feeling in the US during Vietnam that we should “support our own” and that any fight that our country enters must be a good one. Her novel implicitly raises the debate over the prosecution of someone for a past crime even though they may have changed into a different person.  Otherwise it is fairly short and simple; I wanted more in the way of development and complexity. Continue reading

Le Silence de la Mer

par Vercors (Jean Bruller), 1942

Published covertly in Nazi-occupied France, this was a publication for the French people, a sort of “guide for la Resistance” to this country still dazed and reeling from the invasion.  There were underground publications of newspapers going on, but Vercors approached a publisher to do this larger project.  It is a short story, only 50 pages, but still very good and with psychological depth in its intricacies of symbolism and character interactions, as well as an inspiring greater message.

The story enfolds as two lower soldiers examine the narrator’s house.  Several comings and goings later a soldier tells the man and his niece that there will be an officer staying in their house.  When they meet him he is actually fluent in French and very polite.  Still, neither the niece nor the narrator utter a word or even acknowledge him.  This was the start of an unspoken agreement that they would continue their lives as usual as if he had never came. Continue reading

Snow Falling on Cedars

by David Guterson

Very good read.  This is maybe only the second novel I’ve read revolving around a trial (To Kill A Mockingbird being the other).  I’ve read that this book was influenced by Harper Lee’s.

It is easy to see that the author knows his subject matter from the vibrant descriptions of the island where the story takes place.  I was in Washington in the summer of 2007 and got to see San Juan island, which allowed me to visualize and enjoy this book so much better.

The main theme is the necessity of individual moral action despite the indifference of nature and circumstance.  The characters deal with loss and racism, they have to find ways to move on.

Guterson leaves us with a powerful message:  “he understood this, too: accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.”

There is a movie version, I wonder if it is worth watching?  www.snowfallingoncedars.com

Click here for a summary via SparkNotes: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/cedars/summary.html