- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 7 hours
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: February 7, 2012
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0076G28WY
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank: Stories Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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1) The title story was far and away the best. It was cute & terrifying all at once. That’s kind of hard to do.
2) The Reader. Worth looking at for anyone who’s written anything--even so much as a term paper. Deals with the questions of ‘why do we write in the first place?’ and ‘who cares?’
3) The other stories. They were okay, I guess. I’ll have to think about it.
4) Lots of Hebrew and Yiddish expressions throughout. It was kind of neat seeing these words so naturally interwoven into the flow of the narrative, but it would have been nice if there were an appendix listing these expressions and their meanings. I’m not Jewish, so I’m not familiar with most of them. It’s probably wishful thinking to suppose that an American Jew would know all of them. So a little help here would be appreciated.
Englander is kind of a cool last name. I like it. It honors England but at the same time has a Germanic feel to it. Can we expect great literature from Mr Englander? Probably, but I’ll be satisfied with a well-told story. It might be great literature, it might not, but I don’t really care. I’m not passing out grades here, but rather looking for stories to pass the time. This collection of stories fits the bill.
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As a Holocaust educator, I see that, in general, most of us see the victims as sinless. We tend to block the concept that every group has its honorable populace as well as those with less than stellar reputations. Furthermore, we have not seen our families killed, our homes taken from us, nor, had to live through degrading times. We haven't had to emerge back into the world and create a new normal. We haven't had to steal, lie, cheat, and kill for our families or ourselves to survive. The good people we think of when we speak of Anne Frank and the Holocaust, did not emerge from it as the same people they were. Today we understand the concept of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and can give patience and pity to those sufferers.
The author didn't attempt to prepare his readers for the characters in each vignette. For the most part, they aren't nice people. Their behavior is often irrational and selfish. And that's shocking when we are expecting sensitivity and innocence, as in Anne herself.
I finished the stories only by forcing myself to read to the bitter end. This is not a book I enjoyed reading. It definitely is not one I would recommend to anyone under the age of 16 and surely would not want anyone to read it prior to studying the events that led up to Holocaust, the genocide, and its aftermath.
The characters' voices and points of view are written clearly. Overall, the mood is depressing and the reader will have difficulty bonding with the characters. Because it's well-written, it deserves four stars, yet, my dislike for the content would rate it only two stars. Since reviews should not punish the author for the reviewer's personal tastes, it will remain a four-stars book. Readers, beware; you have been warned.
Of the eight stories, I thought the first which is also the title story was the best. It is essentially about two couples who have reunited after many years of the wives being in college together. Both Jewish, one couple has essentially assimilated while the other became more religious. They meet and talk about the good days in college when they were doing drugs, drinking, and engaging in all sorts of other bad habits. The Holocaust becomes a topic of conversation and they quickly evolve the discussion into what they would do if they had to hide Anne Frank. This story appeared in The New Yorker some time ago and it is the strongest of the entire collection in my option. The rest of the stories are quite good as well although I wonder how someone who is not Jewish or even a practicing Jew would enjoy them as there are so many "inside baseball" jokes you need to know. I thought "Camp Sundown" which talks about a Jewish camp for the elderly was remarkable. The senior citizens stage a revolt and the new camp director is powerless to stop it. "Sister Hills" and Free Fruit for Young Widows" are also quite good and touch upon important topics like the Yom Kippur War and territorial disputes. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to read a compelling set of short stories.