Night is one of those books that I talked about a couple of weeks ago as having finished reading, but not posted a review for. If you’re curious, the other two books are Dawn and Day, also by Elie Wiesel. I first heard of these from the podcast Do I Dare To Eat A Peach, and I thought the book sounded interesting. And being myself, that led to me buying all three books once I found out that it was a trilogy. Although I really should say that it’s considered a trilogy, because the three books aren’t connected by anything other than the themes and ideas that they deal with.
I’m cutting right to the chase here. This is a book where the author talks about his early childhood which ended very abruptly when he was sent to a concentration camp in Germany. And as such it’s not the easiest book to read, but at the same time, the language keeps it from being as powerful as I think it could have been. Wiesel uses very simple language (at least the translation that I read had very simple language), and it comes across as bland. If you compare this to The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, they’re written at very similar levels of language, but this book doesn’t do nearly as good of a job in the description. In O’Brien’s book, it really feels like he took the time to find the perfect word, and it led to very simple, but beautiful writing. In this book, the simple language feels like it was the first thing that was written down, and there was never anything done to make it seem like it was anything more.
But while I thought that the writing was bland, it’s obvious that there is a lot more to a book than just the individual words on the page, and while the tale told in this book is an important one, it was far less effective than it could have been because of a previous experience in my life. For my Cross-Cultural Psychology class in college, we had an assignment where we had to experience something about another culture. For one of my places to visit for that class, I went to the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. I enjoyed my time there, learned a lot and did well on the project. But of all the things that I saw in the museum, there is one thing that stuck with me more than anything else. In a side room where they had articles from the Holocaust, they had a short looping video that showed some people who had been in the concentration camps. I say people out of respect, because in the video they looked more like slaughtered pig carcasses waiting to be butchered further. They say that pictures are worth a thousand words, and that image is one that will stick with me for a long time.
This is an important book, simply because it takes the time to discuss a topic that should never be forgotten, but if I’m going to look strictly at the quality of the book, I have to say that I wasn’t terribly impressed with the level of the writing.
A unique perspective on one of the worst parts of human history, but the overall quality is dragged down by the poor level of writing.