Showing posts with label essays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label essays. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

I'm Dreaming of a Black Christmas by Lewis Black


Rating: WARTY!

This was a comedian's take on Christmas and it was therefore supposed to be funny, but it was entirely the opposite: tedious, obvious, and not remotely funny. I skipped the middle completely and listened to a bit on the end while I was on the way back to the library to drop it off, and the guy seems to have majored in name-dropping in comedy school, because he was talking about a USO tour and he made no attempt at humor. All he did was drop names, so I dropped him - back into the library return box.

I love my library, but it recently lost yet another audiobook I dropped off in the box. As with the previous three occasions, I was the one who found it - for the fourth time on the library shelf, evidently put back there without being checked back in. Now I wish it had been this one they lost. I would not have gone looking for it!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Anne Frank's Tales from the Secret Annex


Title: Tales from the Secret Annex
Author: Anne Frank
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Rating: WORTHY!

Read by Kathe Mazur

This review is one of a brace of forays into World War fiction which I undertook this month. The other is A Very Long Engagement which I have to say right now sucked. Anne Frank can write. Kathe Mazur did a decent job of reading this, but Anne Frank wasn't an American. I think it would have been more respectful to have had someone who actually sounded a bit like Anne Frank to actually read her words.

I never read Anne Frank's diary, because I know the ending. I felt a bit differently about this volume. The original title of it is, in Dutch, Verhaaltjes, en gebeurtenissen uit het Achterhuis beschreven door Anne Frank which translates, literally, to Bedtime stories, and events from the Rear Case described by Anne Frank.. Why it was changed, I do not know, but that's the USA for you. No one knows better than we do, obviously....

Annelies Marie Frank was a young German girl of Jewish ancestry who was born on 12 June, 1929 in Frankfurt. When the Nazi's came to power, her father Otto moved the family to Amsterdam. It wasn't far enough. Otto Frank had started a business, and in preparation for the Nazis invading the Netherlands, he arranged for his business to be held under a non-Jewish friend's name.

When the Nazis did arrive, he and his family, with a few other people: the Van Pels family and a dentist named Pfeffer, went into hiding in a hidden part of the factory, the entrance to which was concealed behind a bookcase. I have no idea if this is from whence the 'Rear Case' of her title is derived, nor do I know why people chose to change her own title. That, to me, is disrespectful.

For her thirteenth birthday in 1942, Anne was given a distinctive checkered autograph book she had expressed a liking for in a store. She chose to use this as a diary in which she recorded some of her innermost thoughts and observations. In addition to relating tales of school life, she recorded her observations on her family and family life as well as the others with whom she was so effectively incarcerated. Only a month after she began to write, she and her family were forced into hiding after her sister Margot was ordered to report to a labor camp.

This was where she kept her diary and where she also started writing essays about things which had caught her lively imagination. She continued writing until August 1st 1944. Just three days later, some low-life scumbag betrayed her family, and all of them were imprisoned by the German police.

The family was quickly split up, with Otto being separated from the females. After some considerable time enduring the privations of Nazi imprisonment, her mother, Edith, was informed that she and her daughter Margot were to be sent to a labor camp. Anne was not in a fit medical condition to go, having a severe skin condition by then, but Edith refused to leave her, so all three stayed behind. Edith eventually starved to death having passed on all her food to her daughters. In March 1944, just a month or so before the camp was to be liberated by advancing allied forces, first Margot and then very quickly after, Anne, died from starvation and illness, probably typhus - another of some 17,000 innocent people who fell victim to it in the camp at that time.

Anne's diary and short stories, and the first five chapters of a novel she had begun, were all that is left to us of a young, smart, talented, strong, and inventive woman who was opinionated, feisty, and a really talented writer. Her stories were full of observations, insights, humor, and candor and would have shamed many a modern female young-adult writer. Nazism robbed the world of this talent as it robbed us of six million other people, all of whom had a contribution to make.

Annelies Frank's story isn't the only one, but it is one of the very few we have come down to us in such a very personal and heart-rending manner. There were literally millions of people whom the Nazis slaughtered wholesale, men, women, and children. Indeed, Anne herself only escaped the gas chamber because she had turned fifteen just two months before her capture. The gut-wrenchingly sad thing is that the gas chamber might have been merciful compared with what she had to endure afterwards: being ripped from her father, then from her starving mother, then from her only sister, before finally, she found a release from her pain and misery in death, just a three months or so shy of her sixteenth birthday.

List of Contents of Bedtime stories, and events from the Rear Case described by Anne Frank

  • Was There a Break-In?
  • The Dentist
  • Sausage Day
  • The Flea
  • Do You Remember?
  • The Best little Table
  • Anne in Theory
  • The Battle of the Potatoes
  • Evenings and Nights in the Annex
  • Lunch Break
  • The Annex Eight at the Dinner Table
  • Wenn die Uhr Halb Neune schlägt dreißig (If the Clock Strikes Nine Thirty)
  • Villains!
  • A Daily Chore in Our Little Community: Peeling Potatoes
  • Freedom in the Annex
  • Kaatje
  • The Janitor's Family
  • My First Day at the Lyceum
  • A Biology Class
  • A Math Class
  • Eva's Dream
  • Roomers or Renters
  • Paula's Flight
  • Delusions of Stardom
  • Katrien
  • Sundays
  • The Flower Girl
  • My First Interview
  • The Den of Iniquity
  • The Guardian Angel
  • Happiness
  • Fear
  • Give!
  • The Wise Old Gnome
  • Blurry the Explorer
  • The Fairy
  • Riek
  • Jo
  • Why?
  • Who is Interesting?
  • Cady's Life

Each of these is an essay on life in the rear case, or it's a short story, and these are found in increasing numbers in the latter half of the book. They're smart, inventive, engaging, and very well written. Anne began writing a novel during her time in the rear case, titled Cady's Life which was never to be finished.

At some point I will buy the complete works of Anne Frank, and I will back-fill the above list with some brief details for each entry. Until then, I urge you to read this and remember Anne Frank and six million others like her.