Book Review: The Zone of Interest

amis Prick of the Spindle published my review of the latest novel by Martin Amis, The Zone of Interest. A bit from it:

The Zone of Interest alternates between three points of view: Obersturmführer Angelus “Golo” Thomsen, a womanizing mid-level Nazi whose status is due exclusively to his relation to an elite-ranking uncle; Paul Doll, a Nazi who oversees the arrival and ultimate fates of Auschwitz’s doomed arrivals while his wife and children grow apart from him; and Sonderkommandoführer Szmul, a Polish Jew whose life has been temporarily spared in exchange for his complicity in deceiving arriving Jews as to their fate and for pillaging and disposing of the bodies afterward.

Thomsen’s philandering is legendary and relentless, until he finally finds a woman he has feelings for—Hannah, Doll’s wife. At first, the attraction seems nothing more than carnal and fleeting; as Borges wrote, “There are those who seek the love of a woman to forget her.” But Thomsen possesses a complexity that reveals itself over the course of the story: a linear lothario early on, it’s soon clear there is hidden depth and breadth to his character. In some ways, he parallels Szmul: both men go along with the monstrous machinery of the camp because it is the only way they see to survive it. Thomsen remarks, “We went along. We went along with, doing all we could to drag our feet…but we went along. There were hundreds of thousands like us, maybe millions like us.” Like many of those millions, Thomsen ends up somewhere very far away from where and who he is.

Book Review: “The Tragedy of Fidel Castro”

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Prick of the Spindle posted my review of Joao Cerqueira’s novel The Tragedy of Fidel Castro. Want a taste?

“The third line of João Cerqueira’s The Tragedy of Fidel Castro has God, on a phone call, exclaim, exasperated, ‘Oh, for God’s sake!’ The pun and the immediacy of the informality is a promise to the reader that, in a story starring Fidel Castro, God Almighty, Jesus Christ, JFK, and J. Edgar Hoover, among others, anything goes. But in keeping this promise, there’s too much anything going on in too many directions. Sometimes it’s sharply satirical, sometimes almost endearingly sincere; both, under the direction of Cerqueira, are lovely places to visit, yet neither ever feels like home. This is the tragedy of The Tragedy of Fidel Castro: It’s like wandering the desert for 40 years, only to find there’s no Promised Land at the end.”

Want more? Click here.

My review of Jacob Appel’s The Biology of Luck

 

“In ‘Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius,’Jorge Luis Borges describes one of the ironies of language on Tlon, a fictional world turned real: “The fact that no one believes in the reality of nouns paradoxically causes their number to be unending.” Jacob M. Appel’s new novel, The Biology of Luck, follows the lives of characters and characters who imagine characters, none of whom change. Yet this spotlights other dynamics in the story. And while the main characters are essentially themselves throughout, this in no way diminishes the joy of reading this wonderful work.”

Read the rest of the review at: http://prickofthespindle.com/reviews/8.1/appel/appel.html