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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Unhinge the Universe by Aleksandr Voinov & L.A. Witt

I've read a lot of books / stories and seen a lot of movies - both based on real events and fiction of World War II. To say "I've had enough" sounds a bit harsh (especially for a Jew) but in a way, after reading so much about it, hearing from relatives and people around me, I have the feeling that everything that had to be said - have been said.

There aren't many people alive who actually remember real events (as it was when I was a kid / younger) so most of what we hear now are stories based on some truthful events but basically are fiction. Good examples are "Sara's Key" and "The Reader" (I marked the books to be read but just seen the movies), and also "Every Man Dies Alone" (which I read).

I enjoyed [strange word] all three of them but in my opinion you have to be in a "gloomy" mood to relate to them and since they are fiction you kind of take them "half seriously" and since enough horrible things happened on WW II you should think there is no reason to write fiction about it. right? I guess the best answer would be "maybe" :) Since even though I just said "I've had enough" and even though I complain about the stories being fiction - I still read them.  

Most of the books I read (maybe except "The Reader" and "Every Man Dies Alone") are stories that the main subject is the Jew's Holocaust. I think for Jews its "easier" to relate to these stories and less to what happened around in Germany and in general or/and in Europe at these times. You can't get more horrific than planning and executing the eradication of 6 million people because of their ethnicity. 

The word Jew was mentioned once in the book relating to the fact that a German, even an SS officer would be killed like the Jews if he were found to be gay. I've been to Germany a few months ago and went to a memorial museum for people who where harmed or/and killed during Hitler's reign of terror. I didn't even know or realized how many gay people were murdered.

How unbelievable that a person can be killed for showing affection to the person they love and even more terrible than that is the fact that though 60+ years have past gay people are still condemned in a lot of countries / places. They are still considered "perverts". Why am I allowed to hug and kiss a man walking down the street and they "aren't" or if they do people look at them and think "how awkward they should do it in private so we don't have to see how "uncivilized" they are.." 

What touched me about this book is it talks about a minority which is "easy to ignore". They might be mentioned in a sentence in the list of all the minorities the Nazis killed or wished to eradicate but usually that's it. So a story about gay men during WW II, and not only that, soldiers (which wouldn't be accepted to service even nowadays in a lot of places..) and above all - enemies - is something I found to be unique and worth exploring.

Since the book was written by two authors, I'm guessing each author wrote one character of the two POV we have - Hagen and John. In my opinion it didn't effect the fluency of the book - yeah - I loved this book and found it extremely difficult to put it down. :)

Also, relating to what I wrote in the beginning, I didn't feel that the book was just "gloomy" and you had to be in a special state to read it - Its a romance novel, even if the background noises aren't as cheerful, basically it's about two people from different worlds trying to connect and keep the connection. 

About the plot - Hagen, parachutes over french territory (inhabited by American forces) to rescue his brother. He fails - his brother is dead by the American forces and he gets captured. His interrogator - John needs crucial information from Hagen relating to his brother's mission in this area, information that might tip the war (that is nearing it's end - we are at 1945) and he has very little time to get the information he needs..

About 90% of the book is spread over less than a week in it Hagen and John come closer. At first it is strange sense of curiosity blended with attraction, at least that's how I see it. It takes time for them to understand each other even though they don't know each other and / or find it hard to trust each other. John promises Hagen he would ensure his survival in exchange for his corporation, in light of all that happens this promise creates a bond between them.

Their story is just beautiful. The "against all odds" is always there and also the fact that they are not just two gay soldiers - they are enemies. Being gay wouldn't be something either side would accept (the American would probably discharge John, The Nazis would kill Hagen) but vouching for the enemy, treating the enemy with growing friendship and above all - sleeping with the enemy, well, you simply can't get worse than that.. and all of this must be kept a secret. Which makes it hard for the both of them to know when the other one is "playing the game" and when he is serious. 

In war there are casualties. John says that, Hagen agrees with him and we see and feel the casualties around them. 

I loved how the story concluded. I felt that it was the exact perfect closer. 

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 252 pages, 24-27 October 2013 / On GoodReads

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