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Penny

It sounds rather interesting, if bleak. I've just read The Winter Garden and The Madonnas of Leningrad, novels dealing with the Siege of Leningrad and I think I may have reached my fill for the time being. Rest assured, The Stalin Front will go on my list, however. Thank you.

Danielle

It's definitely worth reading when you are in the right mood for it. The fighting in Russia seemed especially brutal--and the siege of Leningrad horrible. I've read a few books about it as well (I also read The Madonnas of Leningrad and will have to look up The Winter Garden now as well). Over break I'm hoping to read a few lighter books! :)

Caroline

You capture the book very well.
I think we had pretty much the same impression. It was horrible but also interesting and since he chose this somewhat impersonal approach, it asn't too hard to read. Emma commented on my post that it reminded her of WWI novels and that's certainly true. Not only because of the trenches but the type of battle sounds very WWI.
I thought the end was outstanding, how he showed how the senseless machine of war just kept on moving, executing people although anything was lost any way. I really want to read Payback as well.
Thanks for joining and a great review.

litlove

I think you have great courage to read books like this. I do think it's right to do so, to face up to some of the horrors of the past. It takes exceptionally fine writing to make these things readable, and I can see how helpful a slightly impersonal perspective would be! Excellent review - and I'm grateful that you read such books and talk about them so I can learn about the novel without having to read it myself!

Kathy

I tend to avoid books like this that make suffering so real, reading them sparingly if at all. I agree with Litlove that it's right to do so, however. I think perhaps we'd have a more peaceful world if those in charge would read this type of fiction, because fiction can get right in among your heartstrings and tear them up even more effectively than nonfiction.

Stefanie

Wow, this sounds rather intense and unsparing. How did you manage to read it and not feel depressed afterward?

Danielle

I think if he had written about the characters in a more personal way it might have been unbearable to read. It did take me a little while to get into the story, but once I saw where he was going with it, it flowed very nicely. It reminded me a lot, too, of a WWI novel. Not sure if your copy had an intro, but the NYRB edition mentioned that he may have been writing in response to Ernst Junger's book, which makes me interested in reading it as well. Have you read it? I have Payback on my wishlist, but I don't think I will get to it very soon--will keep it in mind, though!

Danielle

Books like these are hard to get through sometimes. I do wonder how I keep going back to them, but I am so intrigued by the war years. I think you once said it is easier to read 'homefront' sorts of books, and I agree--I like those as well. But this is really well done and doesn't play with the readers emotions, which makes it a bit easier to take.

Danielle

I couldn't read books like this all the time--I think that is why I read so many 'comfort read' sorts of books. It makes it easier to read the hard ones knowing I have something light and easy as an alternative. I think you're right that the people who make decisions to start wars should read books like these!

Danielle

It was sort of intense, but it helped that the author kept the characters at arm's length, too. I wasn't sure I would be able to get through it and right before the holidays, but it was okay. It seems easier to read books like these when you don't get too attached to the characters.

Caroline

I almost included Jünger's book but he is such a controversial author and I felt I cannot review him without going into that and that just sounded like too much work. Like if we were reading Céline. He was once my favorite author but there is no denying he was an anti-Semite.
Jünger is problematic because he glorified war. I've read other books by him, he was immensely talented.
I might read something but for a readalong...

Danielle

I can see where you would be hesitant to include Junger in the readalong. I would like to read him and will eventually get around to it, but his books might cause some interesting and difficult discussions. I'm not sure I would be up for that either. I know you just have to take some authors at face value as products of their times, but it doesn't always make it easier on the reader even keeping them in certain contexts. I should really read Remarque first in any case.

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