Die Wand (The Wall) by Marlen Haushofer
A middle aged woman is staying at a holiday villa with relations when one morning she wakes to find that her relations have not returned from town and there is a mysterious invisible wall cutting her off from the rest of the world. Her only companions are a few farm animals and the book is a memoir of the first few years of isolation. We know she is writing about the past and she writes with plenty of foreshadowing. This is a quiet, understated little book that stays with you and makes you think. It isn’t an action filled book and concentrates more on how she feels and how she copes with isolation, feeding herself, keeping warm and looking after her animals. Her constant references to what was going to happen meant that when it finally did happen, and was very abrupt, you are left wanting more. I think this means that the book will reward a re-read. Looking at the other reviews on LT I am wondering about the expectations of the people who read it. This is post-apocalyptic but not dystopic and definitely not an action story, however it is a great read.
Overall – A quiet contemplative read, recommended
Waiting for Robert Capa by Susana Fortes
I was aware of Capa before reading the book, but didn’t know much about the story. The book starts in mid-30’s Paris when Endre Friedmann (Robert Capa) meets Gerta Pohorylle (Gerda Taro) and Gerta agrees to be Friedmann’s manager. After a distasteful stint as photographer to a German paper (both Friedmann and Pohorylle are Jews) in Spain Friedmann returns to Paris and the two start an affair. When Gerta realizes that Friedmann would have more luck as an “American” photographer they both change their names. They then both go to cover the Spanish civil war where Taro, the first woman war photojournalist, loses her life. Fortes states at the beginning of the book that Spain owes Capa a book and this is it, originally written in Spanish. I don’t know if it was the translation, or if the original book had the same problem, but the writing is alternatively grandiose and banal, the characters fail to come to life and I wasn’t overjoyed to find it was a historical romance with many sex scenes. In the end this book just wasn’t for me, there is a great story here, Capa’s life and Taro’s life are fascinating and so is the historical period. Fortes sadly isn’t a good enough writer to bring it alive though.
More info on Capa here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Capa and Taro here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerda_Taro which will tell you much more than reading this book
Overall – disappointing and boring
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