Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Crazy Genius, July 12, 2008
This review is from: The Death Ship (Paperback)
I began reading "The Death Ship" after I had already read just about every biography about the author. I was prepared to dislike the book, because I didn't like the author. As I read the book I heard the rantings of the crazed author at the beginning when the protagonist Gales complains for several chapters at the treatment he receives because he doesn't have any papers. This is consistent with the sort of letters the author wrote to his editor about the hardships he endured when he first settled in Mexico. The author told many stories about who he was and I believe the Will Wyatt biography does a good job of uncovering the truth, but Gales echoes the author's refusal to give any kind of proof in his claims to be an American. Because he won't provide proof he cannot get papers. The author was imprisoned in England and was interrogated and Wyatt believes they eventually got the truth from him when he finally admits his real name is Otto Feige a small town that now belongs to Poland. For much of the authors existence he tried to portray himself as an American just like Gales, but like Gales he refuses to give anyone any proof of his claims. I read the book feeling impatient with the diatribes against government and employers. But then the author moves to the death ship. The writing style changes. He isn't trying to prove he is an American when he writes this. He doesn't pepper his prose with an over abundance of American colloquialisms and he begins to describe hell. The intensity and the passion make you forget the author and draws you into the deepest darkest scariest loneliest place that you can imagine. He talks about the lose of his soul as he works to feed the flames of hell. He contemplates Hamlets dilemma, and I am amazed at the intensity of his writing. Baughmann, one of several B. Traven scholars believes there are two writers, and indeed I can see his reasoning. There is a core and depth to the writing that is not initially present. It is like the author descends beneath all the surface silly fussiness and craziness that is part of his every day life and goes to the heart of darkness that is part and embedded in every man. He explores the nightmare of our loneliness. Perhaps he describes it so well because he is forever an outsider keenly aware of his own oddity.
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Location: small town Indiana

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