Monday, December 28, 2009

City of Thieves, by David Benioff

Okay, I'm messing with the dates here - that's what happens when you're vacationing in a spot with only dial-up internet service! Lots of reading, no posting.

David Benioff is living some kind of charmed and charming life. Talented, handsome, well-paid, respected and sought after. And married to a movie star... Well, as I tell my children almost daily, there is no parity in life.

A quick note on the premise of the book: it is not in fact written about the author's grandfather, that is merely a device to get the story rolling.

Where I heard about this book: Kyle, who I work with, raved about this novel recently. I remembered reading about it, as well, so I rushed right out and put it on hold at the library. Lucky for me I was at the top of the list.

What I thought of this book: I loved it. 5 stars. It's the perfect war novel; it contains disturbing scenes of barbarism and despair, and yet somehow leaves you feeling optimistic about the fate of humanity. I'm pretty suspicious of anything that smacks of a happy ending. This book ends on a high note that rings real and true despite being unlikely, but is sad enough to satisfy. Just what fiction is supposed to do! (It's set during World War Two, for heaven's sake. In Russia.)

What this book is about
: Two extremely young men are caught during the Leningrad siege for unremarkable crimes, and instead of being summarily shot are given 5 days to find a dozen eggs. For the wedding cake of a general's daughter. This during a period when the population is living on library paste and sawdust... What follows are their adventures while on this quest. This is really a story of an unlikely friendship, with an exceptionally vivid and well-drawn backdrop.

Here's a great interview with David Benioff about the book, but I'd wait until after reading the novel to peruse it - lots of spoilers.

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