Thursday, January 31, 2013

Open Heart, by Elie Wiesel

My last post began with a comment that also applies to Open Heart, although it is probably politically incorrect to say so about something written by a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize:  "If this author weren't so successful [perhaps eminent would be a better adjective here], this book would never have been published." Open Heart is a series of brief reflections (the entire book is only 79 pages and took about an hour to read) prompted by Wiesel's open heart surgery in summer 2011. He writes about his love for his wife and son, his guilt about not being with his parents and sister when they were murdered in the concentration camps, his writing, his faith, whether he has done enough in his life, whether he is ready to die. 

Perhaps I am just too cynical to appreciate this kind of book. I did admire the way that Weisel depicted how his mind wandered from thought to thought under stress and anesthesia, but I did not find the book inspiring; nor did I feel I gained the "timeless lessons about life" mentioned in President Obama's jacket blurb. 

Favorite passage:
. . . in my combat against hatred, which I wished to be unrelenting, did I in fact invest enough time, enough energy, in denouncing fanaticism in its various guises? Evidently not, since all of us who have fought the  battle must now admit defeat. 

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