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The Color of the Snow.

This is one of the most brilliant novels I have read recently. At first it appears to be merely a series of odd stories, a film scenario, a poetic essay on the differences between spoken and written words. In this "series" - the word is perhaps incorrect because it implies chronology, the connection of origins and endings - there appears at times a disturbed character named Jakob. Who is Jakob? Is he, first of all, a confused man who is, in effect, a Christian and/or Jew? Why does he call himself "Moy?" Why does he seem to be closer to his grandfather than to his father (a German soldier in World War II)? And why does Jakob offer at times the following words at the end of the stories his grandfather tells him: "Baiff sibbe alehunne / heish obe / aish unne"? Perhaps the strange sentence is the clue to the entire novel. The words are transcriptions of Hebrew. They suggest that Jakob is Jewish - at least partially.

There is a reason for the imagery of pain, division, duplicity. All the images are invoked to capture the experiences of the German Jews in World War II. In the very first section I am told by the narrator - is Jakob the narrator'."is he also the author of the texts which follow? - that "there are many tales about this inaccessible spot - stories of child murderers, crying by night for their drowned children, of innocent hanged men, raging for revenge in storm and wind, of suicides whose incorruptible bodies are tom from their gravel graves by the flooding waters, then buried beneath the deeper eddies - recounted and expanded upon by village elders." The inaccessible spot: is it the site of criminal, genocidal acts? Is Jakob punning on the word spot?

After the last chapter, there is a secret, coded message: "That's how it was. Or otherwise. I forget from day to day." There is a space - a blankness of memory? - and then the following sentence: "Journeys would explain things." Then there is another space, another empty meaning. Then the third sentence: "Journeys into the land of novels. Filled with people we know." Thus the novel ends in the "land of novels."

In this review of my journey through the mysterious journey written by "J.L.B." I have probably misinterpreted the text. (The text has "imprisoned" me.) But I have tried to find the "final solution. " And I must rest knowing there is no "final solution" to any other "final solution."
COPYRIGHT 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Malin, Irving
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1993
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