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Double Vision: A Self-Portrait Hardcover – Feb 3 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (Feb. 3 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679418687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679418689
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,564,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Abish (How German Is It, etc.) intercuts the story of his early years with a modern account of his first visit to Germany and his return to his birth city, Vienna. He was six in 1938 when Hitler annexed Austria and the Jews were expropriated. He remembers a precise number of suitcases being packed at a precise time, with no one explaining why his nicely secular, Jewish bourgeois family was suddenly undesirable. His family fled to Italy and then France before shipping to Shanghai, where they lived until 1948, when the Chinese Red Army forced a move, to Israel. At each stop, Abish watched European Jews recreate their familiar cultural fabric-their preoccupation with ironic repartee, their coffeehouses, even their synagogues for those still inclined to pray. He watched and listened everywhere, almost as if spying on his own life. So, too, in his travel back to Europe, his cultural radar tests the familiar for falseness, looking beneath cultural arrangements for their meaning. Wandering German cities, visiting the concentration camp at Dachau or his former home in Vienna, he's constantly trying to pierce the polite facades of denial by which modern, intellectually fashionable Germans evade the truth of their extermination of the Jews and their continuing anti-Semitism. He insists on complexity, noticing the smallest gesture, the little laugh, the comment not made. What emerges is a sense of how nations construct their identities by very careful editing. To read human history through the lens of one's own life is memoir at its best-and Abish is magnificent.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The prizewinning author of How German Is It? (1980) and other fiction tells his personal story here of early childhood in Vienna in an elite Jewish family, escape from the Nazis, growing up in Shanghai during World War II, and his years in Israel as a young army recruit, librarian, and always "writer-to be." In an alternating narrative, he describes his return visit to his birthplace on an author's tour in the 1980s. Abish is so careful not to be melodramatic or self-important that he distances everything with ironic postmodernist comment about writing about writing about becoming a writer. How does a writer-to-be fall in love? Is it more pleasurable to experience love or to write about it? The jumpy, difficult narrative works best in the unforgettable details that capture the young person's bewildered viewpoint as well as the "bizarre incongruities" of the contemporary scene, especially the jovial tourism at the old Nazi sites. "Must we still feel guilt?" a weary German complains. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Format: Hardcover
The author of a variety of novels, short stories, and poetry, Abish caused quite a stir when his best-known novel, How German Is It?, was released in 1980. Despite its realistic depiction of German life and psyche, he wrote the novel never having actually traveled to Germany. In this memoir, he details the process of writing and promoting How German Is It?, along with many of the other experiences that shaped his life and set him apart as a novelist. The memoir begins with a glimpse of his family life as a young child. His experiences were similar to those of many displaced families at the time: They fled Austria in 1938 and eventually went on to live in Italy, France, China, and Israel. Each of these stays was peppered with adventures-both unique and harrowing. Abish's vivid imagery provides the reader with a sense of Europe during the late 1930s and 1940s, with all of its chaos, confusion, and uncertainty. The story moves back and forth between Abish's childhood and his journeys as an adult, but the stories of his youth have the most impact. A wonderful addition to any library, public or academic.-
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