Saturday, September 5, 2015

Review: "The Wall" by H. G. Adler

I had never actually seen a book that had plot spoilers printed smack-dab in the back of the book until I was reading late German author H/ G. Adler’s magnum opus, The Wall, but as I was reading it, and discovered the spoilers, it really helps saved what would have been an arduous, exhausting read and makes it somewhat passable. Really less of a Holocaust novel and more a man’s personal journey towards escaping the past and making something of his present life, The Wall might be one of the most daunting books I have come across. At a somewhat gargantuan 618 pages, what really makes this reading experience hard is that there are no chapter stops and no divided sections, acting as one man’s symphonic journey in and out of time, which allows for some great moments, for sue, but can’t help but become convoluted and dense as the story goes on. It deals with a man named Arthur Landau, a concentration camp survivor who lost everything in the Holocaust. He finds himself with a new job, working at a museum collecting lost items from the great horror of his life, and somehow finds a new wife and starts a family, but the past tends to intrude in his life in metaphorical, and often times, brilliant ways, much like an actual physical wall: he is visited by pallbearers who wish to take him to the cemetery, a figure keeps calling him Adam, and many normal events in everyday life have the tendency to almost destroy him. These events are actually quite intense, fascinating and moving, from a subway ride that seem eerily like the train rides to the concentration camps and the moment he gets weighed down literally by all the items people are giving him, a heavy-handed but well-earned metaphor. As I said, it can’t help but get confusing sometimes, and the ending is something I wouldn’t have grasped if it wasn’t for the spoilers at the end of the book, but this book, really more of an endurance test at points, is an interesting, and shockingly original book in the overripe canon of Holocaust novels.

Rating: 4/5

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