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Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
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it was amazing
bookshelves: politics-history

"The artist doesn't matter." So say I in my GoodReads profile. What about the inspiration for the story? Does he matter?

After finishing the book, I had to push my heart back down my throat. I had mini-nightmares about what I had read. I took a deep breath and made a note of buying a copy for a close friend's upcoming birthday. And, as with all books I love, I searched for online reviews and varying opinions, and stumbled upon the real-life murder charges brought against Zeitoun this past fall:


Does it matter? Politically, I suppose so. Instead of feeling simply outraged over the injustice a model citizen was forced to endure, I think it over and have to compartmentalize my anger. If the recent charges against Zeitoun are true, I am furious for having been so drawn to someone capable of such cruelty. But if I believe at all in civil rights/prisoners' rights, then I still believe he is innocent until proven guilty, a cornerstone of democratic justice that his abusers in the book never honored. So politically, the horrors he endured remain horrors despite whatever crimes he may have committed.

But artistically? Does any of this matter? Artistically we forgive all kinds of horrific faults. Art is all about the blurry line between good and evil, the exquisite and the banal, the beautiful and the repulsive. We revel in Heathcliffe and Dorian Grey and Sweeney Todd and Erik the Phantom of the Opera and the jerks in The Corrections because they entertain and act out our basest impulses and fantasies. Can Zeitoun the storybook character ever serve the same purpose, or is he too close to home? Is his real-life horror story a harsh reminder of how much real-life disappoints?

I'm not sure I'm one to say what is true. The only truth I know after all this contemplation is that I enjoyed the book. So five stars - for now at least.

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Reading Progress

April 9, 2013 – Started Reading
April 9, 2013 – Shelved
April 12, 2013 – Finished Reading
April 13, 2013 – Shelved as: politics-history

Comments Showing 1-1 of 1 (1 new)

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Jimmy I love your meditations on this. I just finished this book and it was hard to read the news articles about their divorce and subsequent charges of assault. But who are we to judge? We know nothing beyond what's presented to us, and if this book taught us anything it's that things are not always as they seem.

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