My lover has an inexplicable, abiding interest in the Holocaust and what the Nazis did. His explanation is that he’s attempting to understand what and how it happened. I see it as little more than car-accident-watching.

He’s reading a new, well-researched book about Auschwitz. While we’re discussing it, I recommend my copy of Night to him. He doesn’t start on it, so I decided to reread it. It’s been many years since the first and only time I read it and I wanted to be sure of my reasons for encouraging him to read it.

My grandmother gave me her copy when I was in seventh grade. I don’t remember why, but I assume it was because I was asking questions. I had read The Diary of Anne Frank the year before and had read an account by a girl who had hidden from the Nazis as well (this woman survived). So I read Night.

I haven’t read a book about the Nazis or the Holocaust since. I’ve read a few short articles here and there, as well as school-work. I’ve read that silly Stephen King story, “Apt Pupil,” because it was a King story and not because it had to do with the Holocaust. I’ve seen Schindler’s List and Night and Fog. But I’ve never sought out another personal account by a Holocaust survivor or anything to do with the Nazis.

Night is a very short book and takes only a couple hours to read. The writing is extremely simple, almost stark. The few emotional embellishments Elie Wiesel makes are unnecessary but they don’t interrupt the flow of the story. The story moves quickly, carrying one along from horror to horror, crashing up against the devastating conclusion.

I was moved to tears several times and the ending is deep sorrow. There is no discernible heartstring-pulling in the book. He describes what he saw and experienced, nothing more. The reader is left to draw their own conclusions. But what is inescapable is that with his first-person view, it’s impossible to draw back or distance one’s self. He wastes little time in describing himself so that one has no choice but to step into his life in order to read the book.

Why cry? Unlike Anne Frank’s diary, which really didn’t move me, and the other young woman’s story, which was sad and horrible but had a good ending (she and her parents survived); this account is how a young man died while his body still moves and breathes. How could I not cry–warm in my clean clothes, sitting in a warm house, all my possessions around me, food so easily available that I have to restrain myself from gaining weight?

I can’t explain all the emotions that this little book brings forth in me. My feelings might be different from others’ feelings. But I am reminded again why this was the last book I read about the Holocaust.

I have no more questions.

4 thoughts on “night

  1. I haven’t read the one but I might just have to pick it up, Schindler’s List is good though, much better than the movie. On the subject of books, have you read any of Ayn Rand’s books?

  2. Robert,

    Obviously, I highly recommend “Night.” It won’t be like anything else you’ve read.

    I haven’t read any of Ayn Rand, although I have a copy of one of her books. Even my mom likes her books. Rand’s work just hasn’t really made it to the top of my list, for whatever reasons.

    XX
    Amanda

  3. Amanda: Elie Wiesel is one of my favorite public fugures, he was always enthralling to hear when he spoke.

    I read Night when I was about 11. My Mom gave it to me, and I think of it as the preeminent way to sparingly write about vast issues.

    I also read up on Nazism, because I believe that the underlying fear of people can be exploited, leaving us with another opportunity for a brutal police state.

    *Cherie

  4. Hey!…I Googled for diary of anne frank, but found your page about night – After Hours| random discourse from a retired escort…and have to say thanks. nice read.

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