This survivor theme has also been ever-present in two upcoming books I've been reading. I'll blog more about them closer to their publication date, but Bernhard Schlink's complex but beautiful new novel The Homecoming also features a young German who has to deal with his father's actions in WWII and is very much a meditation on the nature of evil and its role in society. And I'm almost finished Patrick McGrath's engrossing new novel Trauma, about a psychiatrist who helps Vietnam veterans deal with their post-traumatic stress and the guilt he feels when one of his patients - his brother-in-law no less - commits suicide. While these are two completely different novels, I find their cover treatments of vandalized books quite fascinating and thought-provoking. What does it say about the role of books and stories in dealing and interpreting (or creating afresh) a version of the past? What is missing? What ultimately can't be written down? The precision of the cut-out text in the Schlink novel is completely different from the violence that unleashed the ripping of the book on the McGrath cover, but I find both images to be extremely troubling and very powerful. Oh, and did I mention that the set of East of Berlin was dominated by a wall of dark, forboding, floor-to-ceiling bookcases?
Next up on my theatre schedule is a post 9-11 verison of Antigone that I'm seeing tonight. Yes, yet another story about survivors.