Barbara Barna's Reviews > The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Family's Century of Art and Loss

The Hare With Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
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's review
Aug 26, 2012

really liked it
Read in August, 2012

It just sort of happened that the last 3 books I've read involve a lot of art and anti-Semitism. It might not seem obvious at first but Einstein was an artist (musician) and he encountered much anti-Semitism in his life. TANGENT: the thread linking Walter Isaacson's 3 jumbo biogs - Franklin, Einstein, Jobs - is the intersection of art & science. I wish Matti Friedman had gone to the Edmund de Waal school of writing before he set out to tell the story of the Aleppo Codex - the amazing, bloody, true and disheartening story of the definitive Jewish Bible text - because his attempt to let the story unfold by bobbing and weaving between centuries and people left me hugely confused and not altogether interested, like a bad BBC drama, until I got to page one hundred and something and finally understood what the book was really about.

Edmund de Waal, on the other hand, had me from the prologue of The Hare With the Amber Eyes. He bobs and weaves between centuries and relatives -- several named Charles and Ignace or so it seems - but the writing is beautiful and you care. de Waal is an artist and I wonder what it is like to go through life such a deep thinker, so aware. I am chastened as a reader for being impressed by the wow factor of his relatives - his great, great uncle Charles was the model for Swann in Remembrance of Things Past - while de Waal remains impassive, searching for meaning, pointing out what matters.

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