I was given Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels for Christmas and have been plugging away at it ever since. The winner of numerous international awards, the book is less than 300 pages yet I am slogging through it two or three pages at a time so am reading it in the same time it would normally take me to read two books.
The writing isn't dense and the words are woven together beautifully. This beautiful phrasing, however, sometimes interferes with the story at hand. I understand the goal of literary fiction is not the arc of the plot and this characteristic holds true with Fugitive Pieces. I also find it distracting to have Greek terms with the English next to it used as abundantly as has been included in this work. A few foreign words are fine for flavour. Too many and the narrative is too often interrupted for my taste. This holds true for the scientific terms as well.
The book tells the tale of a young Jewish boy who flees his family home after his parents are shot and his sister is dragged away by Nazis. He is rescued by a Greek geologist and spirited away to Greece and then, after the war, to Canada. The boy grows into a somber man unable to free himself of his tragic and horrifying past.
I have difficulty reading stories about the Holocaust and other acts of human hatred and cruelty, though read them I do. The imagery it brings haunts me as is the case with this book.
I read for a bit before bed last night then was kept awake by the horrors in the pages. I think I'll have to put the book aside for now.
It may be that in some future time, I will have more appreciation for -- and ability to finish -- it.
What books have you been reading?
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