Stephen King says good readers make good writers, and I’ve read several good books lately, the most recent being The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. The action takes place in WW II in a small German town called Molching and is told by Death. Yes, that’s right, death. Towards the beginning, death is talking about the leftover humans, the survivors, and says he (she?) can’t stand to look at them.
“They’re the ones I can’t stand to look at, although on many occasions I still fail. I deliberately seek out the colors to keep my mind off them, but now and then, I witness the ones who are left behind, crumbling across the jigsaw puzzle of realization, despair, and surprise. They have punctured hearts. They have beaten wings.”
I keep telling people that The Book Thief is the most unique book I’ve ever read, and when they press me for more information, I shrug and say, “It’s so different.”
“How? What do you mean?” they ask.
“It’s just unusual.” I say.
“But how?” they persist.
Usually, I just stand there and say something inane like, “Hard to say.”
But I can’t let it go at that. Here’s how novel is different. The author has a style unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He defines and describes and forecasts things in a novel way, at least to me. Here’s an example:
THE SITUATION OF HANS AND ROSA HUBERMANN
Very sticky indeed.
And here’s another passage that I highlighted because it gave me pause for thought:
A SMALL PIECE OF TRUTH
I do not carry a sickle or scythe.
I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.
And I don’t have those skull-like
facial features you seen to enjoy
pinning on me from a distance.You
want to know what I truly look like?
I’ll help you out. Find yourself
a mirror while I continue.
Really, there are so many unique phrases that it’s impossible to list even a fraction of them. You’ll need to read the book for yourself. What’s it about? It’s a book about a spunky, skinny, young orphan who learns about the power of words; it’s about a boy with lemon hair, a stern woman with a soft heart, an accordionist with silver eyes, a Jew hiding in a basement, and others mean, good, evil, and helpful; and it’s a book about bravery, love, loss, fear, triumph, sadness, and heartache. It’s about loyalty too…and gifts, gifts like a pinecone and a feather. Present #13 was a slab of grief.
I loved it. Like the narrator, sometimes I too am haunted by humans. I’m amazed by them too. “It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on, coughing and searching and finding.”
If anyone out there has read it, tell me what you thought.