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Friday, June 15, 2012

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank

Since taking on a project with the Anne Frank center here in NYC for my everyday job (Wait, whaaaaaat???  Nicole, you have one of those???  You don't just book blog all day???), I love reading books that mention Anne or are about her.  So when Nathan Englander released What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank late last year I put it in my library queue.

This is a collection of short stories that focus on the Jewish experience in America.  The most notable essay is the title essay that references Anne Frank in a conversation between two couples that runs the gamut between Hassidic living to pot smoking and everything in between.

Englander is an adept writer who tells the story in a clear and moving arc; his stories have fleshed out characters that aid the story.  My two favorite essays were "Camp Sundown" which tells the tale of an old-folks summer camp where the campers believe without a doubt that one of their own is a Nazi, and "How We Avenged the Blums" which follows a group of young boys attempting to avenge the bullying of the smallest of their crew by a neighborhood kid.  The stories were enjoyable; Englander has a way of mixing black humor into these stories by which we should truly be shocked.  Why on earth, you ask yourself, am I laughing at elderly people who believe in taking justice for the Holocaust on their shoulders?  You feel partially guilty but then you ignore it and just keep reading.

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