Page 50 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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On the white skins
O f paper, I read your open book
O ffolly
And take heart
Poet o f my heart
(Loveroot, pp. 30-31)
T h e ennu i and boredom which the shopp ing housewife feels,
equa ted with the suffering o f a concentration camp inmate, is a
d isturb ing dem onstration o f how far this trivialization can be
carried . In h e r latest self-indulgence,
How To Save Your Own Life
(1977), Jo n g offers a full demonstration . At the novel’s start,
Isadora, the autobiographical heroine, is su ffering from the
tribulations which beset writers o f best-sellers. Depressed by a
dismal, obligatory literary cocktail party, she runs back to h e r
hotel room , throws herse lf on h e r lonely bed, tries to ease h e r
unhappiness, unsuccessfully, by masturbating , conjures up a
vision o f hostile critics, and cries out:
I was dying. U nde r the critics’ black wings, u n d e r the p e r ­
vert’s urine-stained sheets . . . I was sinking into the grave as
surely as my cancer-ridden g randm o ther had , as surely as
any derelict in the Bowery, as surely as the Jews gassed at
Auschwitz had (p. 16).
T h e re is, perhaps, some solace to be found in the hope tha t the re
cannot be many who are so insensitive.
Ano ther type o f abuse o f the Holocaust, encoun tered with
increasing frequency in fiction, I would typify as the “pornografi-
cation” o f the Holocaust. T h e re are many novels — “thrillers” —
which use the Holocaust to give an ex tra fillip, an additional
frisson, to the thrills they offer. Noel Behn is a w riter o f novels o f
intrigue and espionage who has been hailed as one o f the masters
o f the craft. His novel
The Shadow Boxer
(1969) was praised as an
ou tstand ing example o f the genre, a well written and exciting
book. T he action is set in Nazi Germany at war’s end , and involves
an intricate and mysterious plot to save people from ex term ina­
tion and topp le H itler’s government. Spangler, the novel’s p ro ­
tagonist, is an agent whose exploits o f de rr ing -do verge on the
miraculous. He slides in and ou t o f concentration camps defying
cap ture and identification while spiriting im po r tan t prisoners to
safety. Descriptions o f the
univers concentrationnaire,
the h o r re n d ­