Friday, February 13, 2009

The Reader

It seems that lately I have been faced with one sad story after another. In the movies I have seen and the books I have read and in my life overall. So, while I still have a long list of movies I would like to see, I decided instead to read Bernhard Schlink’s “The Reader”.
And it was sad.
The book is divided into three sections, the first being pretty much, well, sex. I don’t know if it was the author’s style or the translation from German to English, but the sex wasn’t erotic or even interesting. It was just a matter-of-fact, statutory rape kind of sex. I found it more than a little unsettling that a thirty-three year old woman would have sex with a 15 year old child, but it was crucial to the story so I forced myself to just get over it.
The second section was the most interesting, philosophically amazing section of this book and, frankly, most other books, as well. The author raised so many questions of morality and responsibility, guilt and absolution. It really forced the reader (and The Reader), to delve into excruciatingly difficult issues. (You will probably change your opinion several times while reading it, as I did.) I didn’t understand the actions of some of the characters and found myself angry and confused. These emotions forced me to think outside my proverbial box and while I appreciated that, I am not sure I came to any exact conclusions ... just more anger and confusion.
The final section was absolutely pure sadness. It made me think of how easily we let life get in the way of living, sometimes, and how past events, large and small, can dramatically affect the entirety of our lives.
This book is horribly sad and, at times, quite disturbing. However, I still recommend reading it. Part of me wants to see the movie now. If Kate Winslet was able to capture this character at all, she truly is amazing and deserves all the recognition she is getting for this role. It must have been so difficult for her to act.

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