A book can do the same as a movie!
A strange phenomena occurred to me recently. In previous posts I have talked about not going to watch a movie expecting it to be good makes for a much better experience. Now I love to read but I never go into many books with expectations so generally am not disappointed but simply either like it or not. That said there are a few books which were not as good as expected. However, I was lent a copy of The Warsaw Anagrams by Richard Zimler by my brother. He had read it whilst travelling up to see me and had finished it stating, ‘I don’t like the first person thing but it’s a good book, you might like it.’ It is important to say that we don’t generally like the same books, I’m more into fantasy and sci-fi and he likes autobiographical work about drug dealers and gangsters. Where our likes do cross over is that of historical tales. So I thought I’d give it a go without much thought of it actually being interesting. However, much like my view of movies being better if you don’t think they are going to be good, this book proved the same. I must admit I hated the bit at the start where Erik is a ghost (that’s not a spoiler as that is just the first chapter) and wondered what I was getting myself into. I did not expect the supernatural and luckily it was handled well, simply used as a vehicle for the main protagonist to tell their story. The story itself combined the desolation of the holocaust with a murder mystery twist. That shouldn’t work but it so did. Erik started as a bit of an outcast as to where his family are, a failed father and angry grand uncle. As the story moves on his character is fleshed out fantastically and you learn how he becomes part of his grandnephew’s life only to have him taken away. You follow Erik on his journey as detective to find out what happen to his grandnephew. He takes a couple of wrong directions but finally finds out what happened. This is along with Izzy, his long time best friend. It is very much a buddy story. For Zimmler to weave supernatural elements (at the start and end only and only as a vehicle), a murder mystery and a buddy movie into one story set within the Jewish Ghetto in 1940’s Warsaw and it not descend into silliness or offensive tones is very impressive. Even the end makes it more real with a classic, this is what happened to them section. Not all get out alive and not all have happy endings yet some do. You are left with a strange melancholy, for all those that you can be joyous for for coming out the other side of the war, just as many do not make it. The pace is also a great addition to this, in one part the whole story slows down and everything seems rosy only for a dramatic turn of events to reignite the story again. All in all I was surprised and very happy with The Warsaw Anagrams, it’s not my favourite book of all time but it is very high on my list.