Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak


A human doesn’t have a heart like mine. The human heart is a line, whereas my own is a circle, and I have the endless ability to be in the right place at the right time. The consequence of this is that I’m always finding humans at their best and worst. I see their ugly and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still, they have one thing I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die.

Death's job is not pleasant, always in the midst of all that pain. Fortunately, every so often happens to do some particular encounter, and to discover that the same thing can be ugly and glorious. Among the stories of this kind, which he likes remember to help to distract himself as he works, there's the book thief's one, a little girl who at the beginning of this story could not read, was an orphan and alone in the world, and at the end she had family, friends, memories, love, and reading as the most faithful companion. In the background: the Second World War.
A story so sad and beautiful, that Death wanted to share it with us.


This is the first time that, writing the plot of the novel that I am going to comment, I realize I said in those few sentences practically everything that I have to say about this book. That's incredible I managed such a work of synthesis!
But to not contradict myself I'm sure that now, here, in the comment, I'll be able to dilate on it forever! Because if you had not yet figured out, I enjoyed this book immensely! And so I want to talk about it a lot!!!!!
Let's start just from this particular storyteller! I remember I read about that in one of many reviews, but then I forgot it, so I had a moment of astonishment beginning to read and realizing that the story wasn't told, as I believed, by the girl of the title, but by Death. And what a great character he's revealed! So human, in complaining about his hard work, in hiding behind the cynicism the pain for men's suffering, also in being touched for some stories, like the book thief's one.
And how much I was touched too!! Most of all towards the end!! :'(
Needless to say I was extremely fascinated by all the other characters, and rather trivially, I loved above all Hans Hubermann. But Rosa (so strict but deep down kind-hearted), the mayor's wife (her wonderful relationship with the book thief) or Rudy (and Jesse Owens !)... and, of course, Liesel, the book thief. I was especially impressed about her because at the beginning of the book is practically illiterate: I had difficulty in believing it 'cause then books became so important for her
So, I really loved everything about this book, also for example the brevity of the chapters and paragraphs, the various titles and subtitles, advances sometimes thrown there by the narrator, that scared you lots of pages before the event, which then comes and strikes you the same. And (sorry for repeating) I loved the espedient to tell all from a narrator so peculiar! And now, a few days since I finished the book, I had the time to think a little more about it, I can say he was the character I liked more.
Anyway, this book is really beautiful beautiful! but it left me with a little curiosity: the books the book thief reads... they really exist? They had such beautiful titles!!!!!!

Book Info

The bookmark I used during the reading. It was made by Bluelyne.
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Italian title: La bambina che salvava i libri
First publication date: 2006
Publisher: Frassinelli
Italian translation: Gian M. Giughese
Pages: 564
Links: ANOBII

I decided to read this book after I heard about it HERE.

Quotes

First the colors.
Then the humans.
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.

HERE IS A SMALL FACT You are going to die.
I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.
REACTION TO THE AFOREMENTIONED FACT
Does this worry you?
I urge you—don’t be afraid.
I’m nothing if not fair.
[incipit]

In the kitchen on those mornings, Papa made the accordion live. I guess it makes sense, when you really think about it.
How do you tell if something’s alive?
You check for breathing.

As for the girl, there was a sudden desire to read it that she didn’t even attempt to understand. [...] Whatever the reason, her hunger to read that book was as intense as any ten-year-old human could experience.

Now there were only footsteps between Max and survival. Footsteps and thoughts, and doubts.

Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.
That was the business of hiding a Jew.

Yes, I know it.
In the darkness of my dark-beating heart, I know.
He’d have loved it, all right.
You see?
Even death has a heart.

A SMALL PIECE OF TRUTH
I do not carry a sickle or scythe.I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.
And I don’t have those skull-like facial features you seem to enjoy pinning on me from a distance. You want to know what I truly look like?
I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.

Whenever they had a break, to eat or drink, he would play the accordion, and it was this that Liesel remembered best. Each morning, while Papa pushed or dragged the paint cart, Liesel carried the instrument. «Better that we leave the paint behind,» Hans told her, «than ever forget the music.»

THE LETTER
Dear Liesel,
I know you find me pathetic and loathsome
(look that word up if you don’t know it),
but I must tell you that I am not so stupid
as to not see your footprints in the library.
When I noticed the first book missing, I thought I had simplymisplaced it, but then I saw the outlines of some feet on the floor in certain patches of the light.
It made me smile.
I was glad that you took what was rightfully yours.
I then made the mistake of thinking that would be the end of it.
When you came back, I should have been angry, but I wasn’t.
I could hear you the last time, but I decided to leave you alone.
You only ever take one book, and it will take a thousand visits till all of them are gone.
My only hope is that one day you will knock on the front door and enter the libraryin the more civilized manner.
Again, I am sorry we could no longer keep your foster mother employed.
Lastly, I hope you find this dictionary and thesaurus useful as you read your stolen books.
Yours sincerely,
Ilsa Hermann

In the tree shadows, Liesel watched the boy. How things had changed, from fruit stealer to bread giver. His blond hair,
although darkening, was like a candle. She heard his stomach growl—and he was giving people bread.
Was this Germany?
Was this Nazi Germany?

It kills me sometimes, how people die.

For some reason, dying men always ask questions they know the answer to. Perhaps it’s so they can die being right.

Despite Rudy’s advice, Liesel came even closer, and I can promise you that we recognized each other at that exact moment.
I know you, I thought.
There was a train and a coughing boy. There was snow and a distraught girl.
You’ve grown, I thought, but I recognize you.
She did not back away or try to fight me, but I know that something told the girl I was there. Could she smell my breath? Could she hear my cursed circular heartbeat, revolving like the crime it is in my deathly chest? I don’t know, but she knew me and she looked me in my face and she did not look away.
As the sky began to charcoal toward light, we both moved on. We both observed the boy as he reached into his toolbox again and searched through some picture frames to pull out a small, stuffed yellow toy.
Carefully, he climbed to the dying man. He placed the smiling teddy bear cautiously onto the pilot’s shoulder. The tip of its ear touched his throat.
The dying man breathed it in. He spoke. In English, he said, “Thank you.”

I have hated the words and I have loved them,
and I hope I have made them right.

It amazes me what humans can do, even when streams are flowing down their faces and they stagger on, coughing and searching, and finding.

It’s lucky I was there. Then again, who am I kidding? I’m in most places at least once, and in 1943, I was just about everywhere.

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