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Gumbywan

Randolph "Dilda" Carter

A rant about books, horror, and the weird.  I sometimes take on my love/hate relationship with goodreads and Amazon.

Currently reading

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories
Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, William Shatner
Progress: 140/336 pages
Pavane
Keith Roberts

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen - Tadeusz Borowski, Barbara Vedder, Jan Kott, Michael Kandel This is a grim little book. It is best described as a few fictional stories and some short pieces, not quite stories sometimes, primarily about life in Auschwitz/Birkenau from the first person perspective of one of the camp's non-Jewish inmates (this is important). As a non-Jew the narrator's lot is considerably better than most, while still being abominable.The stories are plainly told, matter of fact almost, without much commentary on the situation, etc. The author's approach is very effective at communicating the eerie everyday-ness of concentration camp life: "just another day unloading 3 or 4 trains of people for the gas chambers." Borowski lets the context, the very seeming ordinariness of these dreadful experiences, emphasize the appalling nature of the tasks and situations. And in the end everybody is just getting by as best they can. A recurring theme is the docility of the people being herded to their doom. After all, people had nothing to lose by attempting to attack their executioners. Why didn't they? Borowski details people taking their last feeble possessions with them as they wait in line to be gassed. Why? What feeble hope was there? Each one seems to feel that however unlikely they are going to be saved somehow. And we are horrified because we know they will not be.In one poignant scene, made all the more striking by being the lone example in the book, a young woman surprises her lecherous oppressor on the Auschwitz train unloading ramp by striking him and taking his gun. She shoots him and of course is shot, but none of the people surrounding her that already know they are being herded to their death, rise up with her. They ignore it, avert their gaze; not wanting to get involved.Why do we read books like this? I don't buy the: "it's my duty to read this so it doesn't happen again." BS. There is some dirty little voyeur aspect to fiction or non-fiction like this. Death camp stories. True stories. People like this stuff. They want to read it; wish there was more of it. We tell ourselves it's okay because it really happened that way, it's history, and we need to see it, but if we were JUST making this up for fun we would be called more than sick little pornographers. We are peeking into other people's torment and death like a peep show nightmare. Which is what real horror is all about, I guess.So, on that happy note, if you are interested in reading about what it was like in the death camps and how people manage to live their lives under the most appallingly unimaginable conditions, this should be right up your alley....