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Download Too Many Men : A Novel epub

by Lily Brett

Download Too Many Men : A Novel epub
ISBN: 0006392180
ISBN13: 978-0006392187
Category: No category
Author: Lily Brett
Language: English
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Canada, Limited
ePUB size: 1369 kb
FB2 size: 1428 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 363
Other Formats: doc txt mbr rtf

I first read this book in 2000 when I was in Cambodia and an Austrian colleague (yes, Austrian from Vienna, I'm not mis-spelling Australian) gave it to me after she read it. She loved and and so did I. So much so that I just recently in 2014 bought myself another copy because I'd lost the first one. Lily Brett's older books can be hard to get as they are out of print, so hang on to them if you've got them!

Lily Brett has this unique talent of writing sensitively and touchingly about a topic which almost defies words - the Holocaust. I know how hard it is to write well about extraordinary human suffering. I've spent 13 years working with refugees in Cambodia, Angola, Sudan, Burma, Bangladesh and Thailand. I would never try to write about it because it's so hard to write about it without sounding overwrought or cliched. This kind of suffering utterly defies the power of language. Lily Brett has this unique trick of writing about her family's past with sensitivity overlaid with humour and absurdity. Actually, I find that Australians have a particular bent for this and I think that might be where she got it from.

I see the criticisms of the book that Ruth Rothwax doesn't seem to be a very nice person, she has difficulty controlling her anger and remaining decorous in public. Also, almost all the Polish characters in the book are mean, money-grubbing and all to eager to point out all that the Poles suffering during the war too. I can understand that some readers take offence at this seeming caricature of Polish people. I am guessing if I was Polish I would find it hard to see past that.

However, I think that Ruth's overflowing anger and her uncomfortable-ness with Poles is really part of the story. Ruth is angry but we constantly see her question herself over her anger. She knows it's can't be justified logically, but she feels it. She does want to try and control it because she knows it won't change anything. I really appreciate a character who has flaws, but questions and struggles with them.

Regarding the characterisation of Polish people, I do feel sure that Poland itself cannot be wall to wall full of this kind of character. But that is hardly the point - the book is fiction and the author is trying to paint Ruth's inner world. She has heard many times the insipid pleas that "Poles suffered too". There is no denying that they did, but there is no denying that what happened to Jews was incomparably worse. Such words are very likely to add salt to the wounds of the survivors of the holocaust. It's a lesson from any of us in confronting horror experienced by another - be very very wary of the territory where you are explaining that you also suffered in some way.

After I read the book, it renewed my resolve to travel to Poland. I want to see the complexity of the country too.
I thoroughly enjoyed Brett's novel, even though the ending left me wondering what would happen next. I enjoyed the gutsy Ruth and her unforgiving attitude about what her parents had endured. Sometimes she seemed to go over the top and I would think--"Lighten up!", but the overall effect was necessary for her character.
I loved her Father, who made me laugh and remember my grandparents, also from an East European country, who (although they lived in the states for many years) still pronounced many words in their wacky endearing way.
The Hoss character I still can't put to rest. But, it made the novel interesting, even if I don't quite understand why Brett used this device and what we're actually supposed to assume he was. Was he just the imagination of an overwrought angry Jewish woman, determined to relive her parents pain? Whatever. Hoss still provided an avenue for Brett to give us another perspective that would otherwise be unavailable to today's writer. And, in that sense, I applaud Brett's imagination.
I did feel Brett cut the ending short, making me think there must be a sequel coming. But maybe this is just another one of her devices to keep the reader wondering and thinking about the book.
There were any number of coincidences in the book that could be seen as too fantastic to believe. But, even so, this was a really great read! Very deceptive title, especially for the nonreader. My husband was very curious because I don't read "romance" novels and he couldn't figure out what kind of book I was reading late into the night!
Keep 'em coming Lily!
...This book is something quite remarkable: a trip to Poland taken through the eyes and ears and hearts of father and daughter Ruth and Edek Rothwax. Rarely have I encountered two characters so perfectly realized. As the child of Holocaust survivors, Ruth is a symphonic collection of tics, habits, rituals and agonies; she's an emotional land mine, filled with unanswered questions, with answers to questions she didn't know existed, with a somehow genetic knowledge of events that pre-date her existence. Loss and sorrow and a fear of love/attachment are as much a part of Ruth as her vital organs.
Edek, astonishingly, is a man who never walks when he can run; who can eat massive quantities of food and yet always find room for a little something more. Despite his age (eight-one) and the horrors of the first third of his life, he is a man with an enormous capacity for love and kindness, for empathy and, of course, for a bottomless sorrow that cannot suppress his innate optimism and his fundamental decency.
Too Many Men (an unfortunately misleading title--my only, minor, quibble with an otherwise enormously compelling book) has many wonderfully ingenious aspects to it, not the least of which is the lovely idea that a woman could create a successful business based entirely on her ability to write letters for any and every occasion. This is not only a bit of acutely relevant social commentary on a lost art, it is also, for many of us, representative of the ultimate dream career. It is a brilliant invention.
The fact of Auschwitz (scene of the murder of some 22 million people) being turned into something very like a theme park as a result of Spielberg's Schindler's List is enough to make one's blood chill, and this is conveyed powerfully through Ruth's ever more horrified reactions to what she sees and hears as she and her father travel there, revisiting the places (including Birkenau) where her parents were imprisoned during the war.
There are moments of mad humor throughout the book that have the effect not only of lightening the burden of a father and daughter working hard to reconnect to each other, but also of the true horror of the historical facts of the genocide--all of which are stored in the brain of a woman who cannot get enough information about the atrocities, in a neverending effort to comprehend how and why this could have happened.
This is not difficult reading, which is a testament to author Brett's immense talent and humor, but it is enormously important reading--not just for those interested in the lasting effects of the Holocaust, but for anyone who admires a finely crafted book.
My highest recommendation.