Sunday, July 23, 2017

HHhH - Laurent Binet

I used to be fairly interested in World War II. Then I went and married my husband : Overkill of WWII interest. That's why it took me so long to get around to reading this biography about Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Gestapo, architect of the Holocaust etc. 
(Also the man of the brilliant book-title : Himmler's Hirn (brain) heisst (is called) Heydrich. The publisher felt 'Heydrich' was too basic a title, according to Binet.)

Binet's passion for the war and the assassination attempt on Heydrich in particular makes my husband's look like a lazy pastime. That is a strength and a snag, actually, since I personally thought that a good hundred pages of detail could and should have been edited out of this book. (But then I wonder whether editors actually edit anything at all any longer? I feel books just like films are getting longer and longer, yet none the better for it.) 

The take on narration, however, elevates 'HHhH' from a meticulous history book to an original literary work, no less! Binet converses with himself and his readers, prattles on about his musings on other writers, on the narrative course to follow, on how much fiction is profitable to a history novel, on the difference between a novel and a book, on his research, his travels, his girlfriends past and present... Impossible to say how genuine he is, but it certainly feels both imaginative and accurate at the same time.

A bit long, but excellent!  

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