Saturday, October 2, 2010

"The Book Thief" may be the best writing I've come across...

This is not a book-review blog (unless it's one of mine!) But this week I finished up one of the most remarkable books I've ever read, and I simply must talk about it with you.

The novel, "THE BOOK THIEF", was written by Australian author Markus Zusak. You can see my copy with some other books on my messy bedside table. Bottom line - The Book Thief is possibly the best writing I've come across in a decade or more.

Zusak is only 35 years old. "What's that got to do with anything?" you may ask. Believe me, 35 is very, very young to have the depth of insight and the craft with words this author exhibits. I didn't publish my first book until I was 50, and in large part because my writing was immature - relatively speaking. Zusak writes with the maturity of a man wise beyond his years.

The story follows a few short years in the life of a "The Book Thief", a young German girl living near Munich during WW2. She is placed with a foster family because her parents' own views are unacceptable to the Nazi regime. The narrator is Death, but his voice is more gentle than you could imagine. Death knows the girl well because Death is - as you can guess - extremely busy in Germany during the early 1940s.

The word pictures the author paints are vibrant; personal invitations for the reader to experience language from a new perspective. Zusak's words are animated with their own life. Sentences jump from characters' mouths and sit on the table expectantly, demanding a hearing. It's like the lexicon he pulls from has graduated from some kind of rehab facility. The words are motivated, charged up, eager, anxious to get out onto the page and connect with the reader.

If I develop half the ability Zusak is blessed with in my life-time I'll be ecstatic.

The story is poignant, heartbreaking, challenging, very real. Read The Book Thief. Then let me know what you think.

Peace - and I really mean that - DEREK

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