Following Lisa Samson’s lead, I’m reading excellent contemporary fiction this year. I’m calling the endeavor Truffle Books–reading the kind of book that makes a Hershey bar whine and sniffle in marked inferiority, the kind of book that dares you to pick it up and have just one taste until you’re irrevocably hooked. Just like Lindt dark chocolate truffles.
My first book? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Review: Wow. Amazing. Buy it. Read it. Revel in it.
Zusak astounds me. His language is simple (In fact I was surprised at how much he used “was” and “were” in his prose, but it worked). But his metaphors are surprising and fresh. Zusak writes the book from the point of view of Death, which serves as an omniscient, intelligent POV. Death is truly its own character with quirks, observations, and fascinating asides inserted into the text.
Death follows the life of Liesel Meminger during World War II, a young girl nearly in love who has a thirst for thievery, her main object being books (thus, the title). During Hitler’s maniacal regime, we see the beauty of humanity in Liesel, but more particularly in the men in her life: Rudy, her sometimes partner in crime, Papa, the Jesusy father figure, and Max, the sensitive, beautiful Jew they hide. Aching prose. Excruciating drama. An excellent read.
Eye/Ear Candy: (This is where I shoot you a few amazing snippets of writing. For this book, I’d have to retype the entire thing. But here are a few to whet your literary appetite):
- Each night, Liesel would step outside, wipe the door, and watch the sky. Usually it was like spillage–cold and heavy, slippery and gray–but once in a while some stars had the nerve to rise and float, if only for a few minutes.
- His clothes seemed to weigh him down, and his tiredness was such that an itch could break him in two. He stood shaking and shaken in the doorway.
- Strings of mud clench his face. His tie is a pendulum, long dead in its clock. His lemon, lamp-lit hair is disheveled and he wears a sad, absurd smile.
- Her feet scolded the floor. Air breathed up her pajama sleeves.
- There was the smell of a freshly cut coffin. Black dresses. Enormous suitcases under the eyes.
- The book thief stood and walked carefully to the library door. Its protest was small and halfhearted. The airy hallway was steeped in wooden emptiness.
If you’ve read this book, ruminate about its greatness with me. If you haven’t, do so. It’s darkness and sunshine clashing.