As a student of slave narratives in my master’s program, I was especially intrigued about the methods author Colson Whitehead uses to make the railroad more than a metaphor and instead a functioning railroad in his new novel, The Underground Railroad. Also of note, the very last book I read in my master’s studies (before concentrating on my thesis) was his Zone One.
I wondered: 1) What would I think of this book compared to the “real” slave narratives I have studied and does this do them injustice? 2) Will the fantastical elements take away from the heavy topic here? And 3) Will the book disappoint me by just telling me more of what I already know?
Chris Cleve notes in his fascinating Author’s Note for Everyone Brave is Forgiven,
“I belong to the last generation of writers who can still talk to people who lived through the Second World War.”
We readers have been kept busy the past couple of years with several bestselling and critically acclaimed novels set during World War II. As Cleve’s note implies, too soon any additional novels on this topic may not be as historically accurate or inspired, so I am happy for this influx of reading material.
RELATED POST: All the Light We Cannot See
Cleve, for example, loosely based this novel on his grandparents.
He says of the quick loves and engagements from this era,
“Theirs was a generation whose choices were made quickly, through bravery and instinct, and whose hopes always hung by a thread.”
“Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they are closed forever.” – Anthony Doerr in All the Light We Cannot See
A Pulitzer-Prize-winning bestseller hardly needs my recommendation. And you likely don’t need another raving review telling you the story line of All the Light We Cannot See, which of course includes a blind French girl and a conflicted Nazi-youth, both coming of age in WWII Europe.
Thus, my reflections today focus on the glorious sea and the power of the radio, especially its music. (no spoliers!)
Between today’s parade and fireworks, I found a literary way to celebrate – by finishing David McCullough’s 1776.
Truth be told, I meant to finish this book several days ago, but it worked out nicely to read these words on our national holiday:
“The year 1776, celebrated as the birth year of the nation and for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was for those who carried the fight for independence forward a year of all-too-few-victories, of sustained suffering, disease, hunger, desertion, cowardice, disillusionment, defeat, terrible discouragement, and fear, as they would never forget, but also of phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to country, and that, too, they would never forget.”