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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The German Officer's Boy by Harlan Greene 
26th-Nov-2006 09:31 pm
Back to novels. It's been awhile, to say the least. >_<

Greene, Harlan. The German Officer's Boy. Madison: Terrace Books, 2005.
          Summary: Based on true events. In November of 1938, Polish Jew Herschel Grynszpan, desperate to save his family, enters the German embassy in Paris and mistakenly fires on his clandestine lover, the minor Nazi official Ernst vom Rath. The man's death at the hands of a Jew becomes rich grist for the propaganda mill and becomes a proximate cause for the genocide of the Holocaust.
          Comments: Star-crossed romance between a Jewish boy and a Nazi over a decade older on the eve of World War II. In the hands of another writer, this sort of plot could easily descend into the realm of Beyond Bad Taste, but Harlan Greene, the gay son of parents who survived the Holocaust who himself survived the AIDS pandemic that wiped out so many of his peers, manages no worse than drippy melodrama. Fortunately, the characters of Herschel and Ernst themselves are more believable than their idyllic relationship (Who believes in love at first sight, anyway?), and their twin struggles as closeted gay men is far more immediate and poignant than the grim historical realities of that tumultuous time period. Otherwise, everything and everyone else seemed prototypical--even stereotypical--and do not particularly challenge the assumptions of the reader. Ironically, both the Jews and the Nazis agreed on one thing--the homosexuals amongst them were repulsive.
          Greene's writing has matured considerably since the early 90's, and, though this novel bounces between matters of historical record, fictionalized interpolation, and multiple points of view in decidedly unpredictable, unorganized intervals, the narrative does not lag as it did in his earlier What the Dead Remember. Moreover, and far more importantly, the author's project is clear-sighted and well thought-out ahead of time. He does not, as other authors do, merely equate the Holocaust to the AIDS epidemic in some nebulous way; instead, he shows how inextricably prejudice against both Jews and homosexuals were during that period and how tragedy for one group was tragedy for the other. While imprisoned in a concentration camp, Herschel sees two lifelong lovers that had once inspired him to the possibility of true love transformed into living skeletons--if hatred knows no boundaries, then tolerance must be equally magnanimous. Otherwise, we're all hurt in the end.
          Notes: hardcover, 1st edition, 1st printing
          Rating: 5.5/10 - An important bit of recent history remade into a homoerotic melodrama. Admirable in its attempt...but there's probably a bit of wishful thinking involved.
27th-Nov-2006 12:17 pm (UTC)
Is it just me or does the title make the novel sound... unnecessarily lewd?^^
27th-Nov-2006 02:44 pm (UTC)
*laughs* Yeah, I guess it does.

But the novel itself is drippy romance, not porn.
27th-Nov-2006 07:45 pm (UTC)
And now the fundamentalist Jews in Israel are teamed up with their fundamentalist Muslim neighbors in bashing gay Israelis, with the pope's blessing of course >_<

And I'm with Ariss, the title makes it sound a little, kinky ^^;
27th-Nov-2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
I'm guessing that they don't represent the mainstream Israel, though...
27th-Nov-2006 07:52 pm (UTC)
Maybe not, but they were out there rioting in the streets in the name of God, and managed to force the cancellation of a gay pride parade out of security concerns...
27th-Nov-2006 07:53 pm (UTC)
I think their supreme court just ordered the recognition of gay marriages, or something to that effect though ^_^
27th-Nov-2006 07:56 pm (UTC)
*nods* That's right. You can't get married in Israel itself, but if you go somewhere else where it's legal to tie the knot, your union will be recognized there.

More interesting is South Africa. Finely-crafted non-discrimination laws have made gay marriage legal there--to a horrified conservative majority's dismay.
27th-Nov-2006 07:59 pm (UTC)

Just imagine the grumbling over their first interracial gay marriage ^__^
27th-Nov-2006 08:01 pm (UTC)
Are interracial marriages still a problem there?
27th-Nov-2006 08:04 pm (UTC)
Offhand, I doubt conservatives would approve.. After all, it wasn't that long ago that segregation was the law ^^
27th-Nov-2006 08:05 pm (UTC)
I'm totally ignorant when it comes to South African politics. ^^;;;
27th-Nov-2006 08:07 pm (UTC)
This is within your lifetime ^_~
27th-Nov-2006 08:10 pm (UTC)
I know about aparteid and all that, but I don't know what things are like NOW, other than the no more aparteid part. :P
27th-Nov-2006 08:13 pm (UTC)

I'm not really sure of either ^^;; I would guess it's a lot more accepted now, though probably with generational differences...
27th-Nov-2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I have read Disgrace, but I'm not sure what to make of South Africa on the basis of that novel.
27th-Nov-2006 10:37 pm (UTC)

And that's about South Africa? ^_^;;;
27th-Nov-2006 11:49 pm (UTC)
The author is a native of South Africa. And, yes, Disgrace is set in post-apartheid South Africa. I wrote a review. Don't you remember? *hinthint*
27th-Nov-2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
I wrote a review. Don't you remember?

Well you know, more than a couple weeks and things start getting fuzzy ^_^;
28th-Nov-2006 12:05 am (UTC)
28th-Nov-2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Oh! Okay, I remember that one ^_^
27th-Nov-2006 07:53 pm (UTC)
They've tried to get the parade canceled before, but this is the first time they've actually succeeded, from what I understand.
17th-Dec-2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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