Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fugitive Pieces - Anne Michaels (Jackie's Review)

Fugitive Pieces won the Orange Prize for fiction in 1997.

Jacob Beer is a Jewish poet, who was found by Athos, a Greek scholar, after he escaped from Poland. Jabob was ophaned after the Nazis killed his family, so Athos smuggled the 7 year-old boy back to Greece and reared him as a son.

The writing in this book is very skilled, but I felt it fell in to two very seperate sections. The modern section was very normal, but I found the characters quite irrating. They were too perfect, and the fact that Jacob seemed to be equally burdened by the gravity of his intellect, as we was by his memories of the Holocaust made him difficult for me to like.

The interwoven story of the persecution of the Jews was too graphic for me, and I wish that I hadn’t read it, as I’m sure that they will return to haunt me. The juxtapostion of the two stories intensified the emotion, and it was so disturbing that at times I could barely read it.

The character of Ben is introduced towards the end of the book, and I have to admit that it took me a while to realise this was a completely new person. His voice was so similar to Jacob’s that I failed to realise he was someone new. This lead to some confusion, and I still don’t really understand why he was added to the book.

Overall I think the book was just too abstract for me to appreciate. The narrative didn’t flow very smoothly, and although some parts were vividly described, it was too distressing to be a good read.

Originally reviewed here.

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