So, to continue my streak of books that were made into movies, I read The Reader by Bernhard Schlink over the summer. It was originally published in Germany, and then later translated into English. Again, I have not seen the film based on this novel, although I do like Kate Winslet.
Anyway, the book was rather blase. Not as interesting as I’d hoped. It begins as a retrospective tale about a young boy who is very sick all the time, and meets an older woman who takes care of him. They end up having a romantic relationship until she mysteriously leaves one afternoon.
Later in his life he discovers that she was a part of the antisemitism during WWII when he is a law student and observes her trial for class. She is sentenced to life in prison. All the while we read the thoughts and feelings (or lack thereof) of the narrator.
There is much more to the novel, and you’d have to read it to understand why it’s not just that little boring piece of writing. But really, it’s not much more than that. Perhaps the translation I read was sub-par, or maybe it was just that lifeless to begin with.
The narrator goes through a period in which he feels nothing. He has no emotion. It’s evident in the writing. Because it’s a retrospective sort of piece, I would expect there to be some emotion in the writing, but really, it’s pretty dry.
What I dislike about the piece the most, is that the author, when coming to the conclusion about why the woman does certain things in the novel, doesn’t do it gracefully. He lines all the facts up in one place and then tells us “This is why she did that.” It doesn’t allow the reader to try to make conjectures for him or herself; it doesn’t involve the reader.
The concept is a good one, but I feel as though the execution was perhaps less than literary.