Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: In Our Strange Gardens

In Our Strange Gardens, Michel Quint

My sister is one of the few individuals whom I trust to give me a reading recommendation. She had a piece of paper tucked into this novella with a bit of background information about the man on trial, as well as some very thought-provoking questions about the characters' motives So instead of a review, here are the notes I jotted down in response to her questions. **Possible spoilers ahead*

Why did Andre become a clown?
-I feel like the book used enough references to penance to make that a possible answer, but still I wonder. Why the poor charade? I sit penance, or is it a statement? Or a thoughtful reminder? It it even possibly just a happy reminder, like giving praise?

How would you describe Bernd?
-Someone caught up "on the side of evil" as he said. The question makes me recall an early quote in the story (the dedication, in fact) "to my father... who opened me wide to the memory of horror, yet made sure I learned German, because they knew how foolish it is to see history in terms of black and white". It's tempting to assume he was helpful because he regretted the side he was on, but the whole point of this story seems to highlight the possibility that maybe Bern was just compassionate, while still believing in the side he fought on.

Do you agree it's "inhuman to choose a sacrificial victim"?
-I feel like the answer is less active and more passive--it shows you've been placed in an inhuman position. Do I think it's inhuman to allow someone to chose to be a sacrifice? No.... To be the one choosing? If it's not yourself, then yes. He means it as a statement of compliance, though, which I think is a super complicated topic. Although it makes me (as nonreligious as I am) point out that God chose a sacrificial victim, and in almost eery definition he is pretty inhuman--though not in the way implied by the quote.

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