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I just finished reading All the Light We Cannot See and it was SO good. So so very good. In fact, I might start over reading it again. Or I might do that thing I do (and you do, too, admit it), which is download and devour everything he's ever written. Which is another novel and 2 collections of short stories. I'm actually a little wary about the short stories, because I've found that, much as I love them, they don't seem to stick in my brain the way full-length books do.

And then I buy them again, forgetting I've already read them. Did it just tonight, dammit. Not his, though, someone else's.

I was a little worried about reading it because it's set during WWII, in France and Germany, and you know books about WWII never end well. Or rarely end well. And this one, well, it ends relatively well for some and not so well for others and not at all well for a few, which is really sad but there really wasn't any other way to go with the narrative and by the time it gets there you realize how true it is and how the sadness helps make what happened even more real.

Speaking of WWII, Martin just got back from his 4-day school trip to Berlin, and now I want to go back. The last time, and only time, I was in Berlin, was when I was in high school. The wall was still up, and I went with my choir and we took a train across East Germany from West Germany (where I lived at the time) and I remember nearly nothing except how exciting it was. I remember the fun with my friends and drinking V8 juice and eating Oreos (my friends told me I had a cast-iron stomach to down that combination) on the train and giving each other backrubs. And taking photos, though they're all at mom's apparently.

We went to the Checkpoint Charlie museum before or after we went on a tour, through the wall, and into East Berlin (which my fingers have consistently typed as Easter Berlin). I remember the wall, and the spookiness of the streets and the desolation and the terrible quality of goods for sale in the department store we visited. I bought a German teddy bear with a little red crown and gold GDR medal around his neck. I thought he was still in the stuffed animal basket in the playroom and I just made Martin look for him, but he's nowhere to be found. He must have been sacrificed in the Great Stuffed Animal Clean-out some years ago. I tried to google him and there are a million stuffed teddies with crowns and medals but none of them is MY teddy.

Anyway, I remember Checkpoint Charlie Museum being really, really small and crammed full of stuff and Martin says it's huge now, with several buildings and it takes up the length of a city block. He said it was still interesting though. But not as interesting, I bet, as when you actually went through Checkpoint Charlie with soldiers with guns pointed at your bus and your passports held up with the picture page against the window of your bus!

I have a piece of the Berlin wall, too. My dad gave it to me for Christmas sometime in the early 90s. It has a certificate of authentication with it, but I am still suspicious. It's just a block of concrete, could be from anywhere, really. But still! A piece! Of HISTORY!

I'm glad I didn't live through WWII. I hope there is never something like that again that I have to live through. Or my children. Or their children. I hope it stays in the past, as history, and fiction, and sadness, and inspiration for hope.

PS: Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth Be With You!
mood: thoughtful
music: hummy buzzy snucky noises


I just picked that book up from the library.

You won't be sorry!

I bought All the Light We Cannot See on my recent trip to London and I'm glad to read you enjoyed it. I first discovered him with The Memory Wall (I think that is what it is called. I need my own Memory Wall, it appears) and was excited to see he had this new novel out.

I also go on jags when discovering an author. I remember reading Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin which prompted me to go through her entire oeuvre. What a gourmet buffet. She's terrific.

I couldn't read that Shriver book, but I read another one of hers (it had "Birthday" in the title, I're not the only one that needs a memory wall, apparently!) and enjoyed it.

From Megsie

Amazon REALLY wants me to read that book. It is always there, being suggested, so I am hoping that YOU are not amazon. I trust you more.

I have a hard time reading books about WWII, especially now that I have kids. It is such an horrific event(s). So much hate, so much obedience. Scary. I know that there are places in the world right now that compare to this, but to have such systematic torture and murder on such a grand scale? It is sickening to think about. Often when I am reading books like this, I can't let it go. It haunts me. And I just don't want anymore haunting scenes. Did you ever read Beach Music by Pat Conroy? There is a specific scene in that book that STILL makes me cry when I think about now. (THANKS LIZ.)

And, that being said? I LOVED The Book Thief. So. There you go.

I have the same hopes that you listed. xoxoxoxo

Re: From Megsie

I am the THINKING WOMAN'S PERSONAL AMAZON! haaha!! I have always had a hard time reading books about WWII but they fascinate me so. And WWI, as well. I've never read any Conroy that I can remember, and now I won't read that one either. HAHA.

I loved The Book Thief, too. :) It's SO good!!

Re: From Megsie

But, still? Beach Music is SO GOOD. Really. WWII is a definite theme, but not the setting. Only flashbacks. I think. Did you say memory board? Yeah. I need one too.

Fred had a piece of the Berlin Wall, and one of his nephews got mad and threw it outside and they never were able to find it. Still irks him. But he does still have a piece of the barbed wire, nicely mounted and hanging on the wall at his mother's house.

My eldest nephew went to Berlin on a college expedition, and toured the remains of the Wall; he sent me a photo of himself standing next to a section of the Wall in a museum. I fervently hope museums are the only places we find such things in the future...

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