I have not been writing much during the past two or three weeks so I decided to read instead of sitting idly in front of my screen. I’m surrounded by stacks of books crying to be read.
I first picked up one I had started: Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell. This heartbreaker of a first novel by a Canadian film maker is based on stories she heard about her Ukrainian paternal ancestors pioneering in Alberta in the 1930s, interwoven with stories gleaned and imagined from archival photographs and written records. Using multiple points of view, she weaves the story cinematically; a technique that is sometimes confusing, but in the end packs a wallop that lasts long after the final page is turned. I sometimes loved it and sometimes hated it, and I couldn't put it down. I'm left with such a deep feeling of the tragedy of human lives, caught in a web of circumstances they can barely fathom. All they know is to keep going, whatever the direction. This book is a gift in particular, to readers of Ukrainian heritage. So many stories yet untold. Highly recommended.
The next book I read was: The Lost A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Mendelsohn. The author is a well-known writer and teacher, a classicist at Bard College, and the family historian. He began his quest as a child, fascinated by his grandfather’s stories and the flimsy details of his great-uncle’s family’s disappearance during World War II. His search for survivors from the small village in present day Ukraine takes him to 12 countries and 4 continents. Interwoven with his personal quest are stories from Genesis in the Hebrew Bible with timeless themes of wanderings, searching, betrayal, and violence. Sometimes repeating himself, Mendelsohn tells the tale his way, the old way his grandfather told a story and in fact, the way the Greeks told their stories. He meanders in and out of the narrative, between past and present, Biblical texts and survivor’s dialogue. After over 500 pages, the reader is left with the feeling of having read an epic. Indeed, it is an epic. Highly recommended.