Ugh, This is the third time I’ve tried to write this post…each time something crashes and my response to the week’s reading is lost to the ether.
And it bears saying, I’m not excited enough about the reading to fuel three posts. So here’s the abbreviated version:
It’s terrifically hard to get engaged in The Part About Archimboldi, following as it does The Part About The Crimes. This week’s reading includes a terribly disturbing history of a small German town that receives an accidental shipment of Jews bound for concentration camps…the narration and inner monologues here are creepy and compelling and human and disgusting and exactly what I wanted in The Part About the Crimes. I wanted to be compelled to look and be horrified at what I saw. In the Crimes, however, I got a laundry list of dead bodies. In Archimboldi I read the personal account of the avoidance of bodies. Shudder-inducing and brilliantly written.
Nazis and Communists, soliders and writers, this section scurries through history, pausing occasionally to sniff at some man who means something to Hans Reiter. In the way that The Part About the Crimes ignores the sociopolitical forces that conspire to murder women in Santa Teresa, The Part About Archimboldi breezes by a lot of historical data to leer at naked bodies and tormented minds.
And its all more readable than the rest of the novel. But it’s almost too late.
Says the man who dispatched a whole town to murder groups of Jews day after day after day:
“I was a fair administrator. I did good things, guided by my instincts, and bad things, driven by the vacissitudes of war. But now the drunken Polish boys will open their mouths and say I ruined their childhoods, said Sammer to Reiter. Me? I ruined their childhoods? Liquor ruined their childhoods! Soccer ruined their childhoods! Those lazy shiftless mothers ruined their childhoods! Not me” (767).