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The Third Winter of War: Buchenwald Paperback – 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Finishing Line Press (2007)
  • ISBN-10: 1599241749
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599241746
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,000,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Adam Robinson on October 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
(Review cross-posted from <a href="[...]">JMWW</a>.)

At his blog, John Guzlowski reports being awakened by his father's screams at night. With just a few sentences, he gives a chilling description of these occasions: "Screams, in my experience, are usually accompanied by an explosion of air. My father's nightmare screams were drawn in. Even in his sleep, it was almost like he was afraid to scream." This is the objective correlative for his wretched and sublime chapbook The Third Winter of War: Buchenwald.

Guzlowski's poems are a meditation on his father's experience as a laborer in a Nazi camp. The holocaust always strikes me as a questionable medium for artistic enquiry, because its weight as a singular actuality always overwhelms the product. It seems right to feel intimidated and wary when confronting it as a spectator. After all - whoa - this happened and who can fully harness it? And yet, its power rarely misfires; the holocaust, as source material, is at once too fertile to admire and too fertile to find disappointing.

This chapbook is no exception. Despite the handsomeness of the volume, a beige, staple-stitched pamphlet put out by Finishing Line Press, I was initially skeptical of the subject matter. No doubt this is partly due to the haunting cover drawing by Vojtek Luka, which signposts that I am about to confront the worst of human experience, and I'll have no choice but to be moved.

The 26 brief poems (including the Prologue and Epilogue) concern the father's days spent digging up bricks among heaps of murdered bodies while dreaming of his own death at night. Guzlowski recounts these borrowed memories in short, unadorned verses.
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