Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Horton hears a Jew

Erich Maria Remarque has solidified himself as one of my favorite authors, and he managed to do it with only two books. All Quiet on the Western Front is his most famous work, and my favorite war novel. It's probably in my top ten favorite books, if I was to do such a ranking. Recently, I finished Spark of Life, and for one author to make two powerful novels that really move me is enough to slot him as a personal favorite, which I understand is what all authors want - my approval.

The story is set in a concentration camp during the final weeks of World War 2's European front. The main character, for lack of a better term, is a prisoner who has forgotten his name and only goes by his number (867-5309). There are numerous other supporting characters that add help weave a tale of the human soul, with its darkest possibilities and amazing strength. The book is a lot to work through, but it doesn't drag; it's more like a hearty meal. The prose itself is not overly dynamic or complex, but the substance of the text is. Many people claim Hemingway was an author that wrote plainly but created strong effects, but I have found his work to lack interest or emotion. Remarque was an author that wrote simply, but his passages were powerful, emotive yet reflective, raw yet intellectual. He wrote fiction that drew its dynamism from the most bleak and cruel areas of Remarque's own experiences. He was a German that lived through both World Wars; we were fortunate enough to see that world through his artistry. What Otto Dix did on the canvas, Remarque did on the page. Spark of Life comes highly recommended.

(As an aside, I feel the need to tackle The Night in Lisbon, because I either never finished it or have no recollection of finishing it, and if I'm going to claim Remarque as a favorite author, it would help to actually know his works.)


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

ChrisV82's Hairy Blogsack: Horton hears a Jew