Why don't i like it? I thought the narrator in the audio version carried a pompous attitude at times. But it wasn't quite it, then may be it was liste...moreWhy don't i like it? I thought the narrator in the audio version carried a pompous attitude at times. But it wasn't quite it, then may be it was listening to a grandma read the autobio of a 10-14 yr old? Nope, that wasn't all, either. Finally I got it: it was her lackluster writing.
This is the memoir of a Jewish girl who got deported along with her wealthy family from Poland to Siberia in a cattle car. I thought i would learn something about the Siberian landscape and local life thru her story but there was little of it that was interesting. Mostly she painted people she met as one-dimensional caricatures -- everyone nice to them was a good person and anyone who's ever mean to them was a bad guy, and each one of her family member was a model citizen beyond reproach. As much as the story of Jewish deportation was an important one to tell she is not a likable memoirist b/c of how self-centered this piece of writing is. There is no mention/observation of anyone else's feelings/needs except those of her own clan. And her mother's pride? I believe that's what the Chinese called an extreme case of face.
To be fair, i learned a few tidbits: 1. the inhumane treatment of German POWs, distributing the loot from robbing the Germans back ...
2. Anti-semitic sentiments of the Polish ppl toward home-coming Jews immediately after WWII. i wonder about the course of change in this attitude over the next 60+ yrs ...
3. where is Siberia? Somewhere between Moscow and the Aleutian Islands
At 80 pages: It's been such steady navel-gazing for 80 pages that i began having submarine myopia! The author made no effort to describe anyone other t...moreAt 80 pages: It's been such steady navel-gazing for 80 pages that i began having submarine myopia! The author made no effort to describe anyone other than the protagonist: our sad, uptight, timid, proud & distrustful Mabel. Why wud Esther, outdoorsy and a natural caregiver, take to Mabel for example?
I also wonder if this is an accurate depiction of US society in the 20's. Mabel, daughter of a Penn prof, generally expected women to "feign helplessness, or cloak her opinions in niceties" like herself (p.39). And everyone (Penn ppl) warned that the Territory of AK was for lost men & unsavory women (p.34).
At 150 pages: pretty certain i will NEVER grow to like this book -- finding out that this is merely the retelling of a Russian fairy tale didn't help.(less)
Ref on the Solovetsky prison camps (on Solovetsky Islands) during the 1920's and 30's: "God's Gulag" is a short &...more365.45094 SOLZHENITSYN Vol. 1, 2, 3
Ref on the Solovetsky prison camps (on Solovetsky Islands) during the 1920's and 30's: "God's Gulag" is a short & provocative article on the remote archipelago's monastery and prison history. When Stalin and Hitler were chummy in the 30's, German officers visited the island and studied its “correctional” regimen, gleaning elements that they would soon put to use in the holocaust. ("God's Gulag" By Jeffrey Tayler, Jan/Feb 2012 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE):
The grottos were located in the cold western Ukrainan forest. Several extended families hid in these caves for 1.5...more2012 documentary "No Place On Earth"
The grottos were located in the cold western Ukrainan forest. Several extended families hid in these caves for 1.5 years until the Russians drove out the Germans above ground in April 1944. Their ages span from 2 - 76 years old. This was one of the hardest documentary viewing experiences ever. Not only did the researcher find numerous survivors to retell their tales, their hardships were etched so indelibly that they, in turn, imprinted them upon us when we viewed their testimonies.
Note: the bulk of their testimonies was taken at face value by the movie maker. Besides physical evidence in the cave (stove, stone flour mill, personal effects) that prove they were once there, there was no collaboration on other parts of their story such as duration & circumstances. I thought the research was a little lax.