Tuesday, August 21, 2018


   Ohio by Stephen Markley
      This book had me so conflicted it took a few weeks of digesting before I could comment on it.  I do love the book that makes me think about it when I’m not reading it.  This one should fill that bill for you nicely.  After a couple of weeks the one word that surfaced was “stuck.”
      I don’t know about you, but I left high school behind. Maybe I’m wrong but decisions I made then and many of the people I knew then I left back then. I don’t believe they influenced the rest of my life.  Yes, I made lifelong friends, people I choose to see still. But the whole experience was not something I go to reunions to relive.  It wasn’t my best time.  The people in this book seemed to me to be stuck. 
      Stuck in the decisions they made back in high school.  Stuck remembering and trying to disavow or embrace the relationships they had.  Stuck in a small town that died when September 11 happened to us all.  Stuck and trying to unstick themselves.  Stuck together.
One summer in 2013 four of those classmates converge again in New Canaan, Ohio, each carrying the baggage they first took up in high school.  Bill had the high hopes and dreams of an activist, now he finds himself carrying a strange package taped to the bottom of his truck back to New Canaan, he doesn’t know what it is and accepts the payment to carry it.  He is into drugs and alcohol now. Dan has done his duty three times in Iraq and is home and trying to connect with his high school sweetheart.  Stacey is back and finds herself sitting across the table from the mother of her high school lover.  Tina was ‘that’ girl.  All of them are trying to connect the dots that changed or rather affected their lives.
     I couldn’t understand why they were stuck, because I wasn’t.  But this is the generation who has never known a country that wasn’t looking over its shoulder at terror, war, fear.  They’ve never known a federal government that compromises, they’ve never known a country that at least tried to get along and one that wasn’t struggling with economic recession – and they called the  bullseye home. If it was bad and it was going to happen, it would happen in Ohio. Fling the net and they’re all caught.
     If you want a book that’s going to make you think, that’s beautifully and thoughtfully written, that’s going to stick with you after you’ve finished it and if you can get others to read it,  a book you can discuss until the wee hours, read this one. It isn’t fun, but it will stick with you. Promise.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Auschwitz Lullaby

Auschwitz Lullaby by Mario Escobar

     Well, there is nothing happy about this book, we all know what Auschwitz was, so don’t go looking for that.  Instead read this to learn something new about the place.  We should always be looking to learn more about this place. There are always new levels.
     This is the story of Helene Hannemann.  Helene was full blooded Aryan German but she fell in love with a Romani man.  We know the Romani more commonly as Gypsies. Helene and Johann had five children and led a good life until the Reich started narrowing their lives down with restrictions.
      Helene was a nurse, her husband a musician.  One day the SS come to take them away.  We know about this part, the trains, the struggle to maintain a speck of dignity, the camp, the struggle to stay alive.  When the camp command finds out Helene is full blooded acceptable German, she is invited by Dr. Mengele – yes, him – to open and run a kindergarten for the children in the Romani camp. She accepts his offer because it gives her a purpose, it gives her some small advantages for her own children, it gives some small advantages for the Romani children and thus a little longer thread of hope to survive. But she also comes to realize that her nursery Kindergarten is a feeder for Dr. Mengele’s experiments. 
     Helene’s story is true, she did exist, she did run the nursery, she did work for Mengele but only for the time and advantages it offered to the children. But, she knew full well what happens when you dance with the devil.