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Fugitive Pieces Paperback – Mar 3 2009
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Anne Michaels, an accomplished poet, has already published two collections of poetry in her native Canada. She turns her hand to fiction in an impressive debut novel, Fugitive Pieces. This is the story of Jakob Beer, a Polish Jew, translator, and poet who, as a child, witnessed his family's slaughter at the hands of the Nazis. Beer himself was found and smuggled out of Poland by Athos Roussos, a Greek archaeologist who carried him back to Greece and kept him there in precarious safety. After the war they emigrated together to Canada. Jakob's story is told through diaries discovered by Ben, a young man whose parents are Holocaust survivors and who is a vessel for their memories just as Jakob is the bearer of his own.
Fugitive Pieces is a book about memory and forgetting. How is it possible to love the living when our hearts are still with the dead? What is the difference between what historical fact tells us and what we remember? More than that, the novel is a meditation on the power of language to free our souls and allow us to find our own destinies. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Searing the mind with stunning images while seducing with radiant prose, this brilliant first novel is a story of damaged lives and the indestructibility of the human spirit. It speaks about loss, about the urgency, pain and ultimate healing power of memory, and about the redemptive power of love. Its characters come to understand the implacability of the natural world, the impartial perfection of science, the heartbreak of history. The narrative is permeated with insights about language itself, its power to distort and destroy meaning, and to restore it again to those with stalwart hearts. During WWII, when Jakob Beer is seven, his parents are murdered by Nazi soldiers who invade their Polish village, and his beloved, musically talented 15-year-old sister, Bella, is abducted. Fleeing from the blood-drenched scene, he is magically saved by Greek geologist Athos Roussos, who secretly transports the traumatized boy to his home on the island of Zakynthos, where they live through the Nazi occupation, suffering privations but escaping the atrocities that decimate Greece's Jewish community. Jakob is haunted by the moment of his parents' death?the burst door, buttons spilling out of a saucer onto the floor, darkness?and his spirit remains sorrowfully linked with that of his lost sister, whose fate anguishes him. But he travels in his imagination to the places that Athos describes and the books that this kindly scholar provides. At war's end, Athos accepts a university post in Toronto, and Jakob begins a new life. Yet he remains disoriented and unmoored, trapped by memory and grief, "a damaged chromosome"?the more so after Athos' premature death. By then, however, Jakob has discovered his metier as poet and essayist and strives to find in language the meaning of his life. The miraculous gift of a soul mate in his second wife, "voluptuous scholar" Michaela, comes late for Jakob. Their marriage is brief, and ends in stunning irony. The second part of the novel concerns a younger man, Ben, who is profoundly influenced by Jakob's poetry and goes to the Greek island of Idhra in an attempt to find the writer's notebooks after his death. Ben is another damaged soul. The son of Holocaust survivors, he carries their sorrow like a heavy stone. Emotionally maimed and fearful, Ben feels that he was "born into absence... a hiding place, rotted out by grief." Yet when it seems that the past will go on wreaking destruction, Jakob's writings, and the example of his life, show Ben the way to acknowledge love and to accept a future. These intertwined stories are related by Canadian poet Michaels in incandescent prose, dark and tender and poetically lyrical. A bestseller in Canada, the novel will make readers yearn to share it with others, to read sentences and entire passages aloud, to debate its message, to acknowledge its wisdom. 35,000 first printing.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Woven into the story are reflections on memory and knowledge: and many concrete references. Perhaps that is the great link between poetry and the novel, that both can turn to concrete things--lemons on a Greek island, a river in Canada in flood, objects that are real in themselves, that can be metaphors, and that reveal the fragile precious quality of human existence and human connection. And this concreteness, like the immediacy of Jakob and the poet and the other characters, has remained with me since I've read this book, making me in some small but significant way more tender and appreciative, more alive.
This is primarily a story about memory, love, and loss. Anne Michaels is an accomplished poet, which is really demonstrated in this, her first novel. Every sentence is carefully crafted poetry. Her descriptions have great depth and make the reader see the great beauty and great horror.
This book is not a fast read. I found myself having to stop and ponder a lot. This was both negative and positive for me. I am not a huge fan of poetry, so in that sense this book was too lyrical for me. However, by being forced to stop and ponder I found some wonderful pearls.
I saw the movie version, which is what prompted me to read this book. The movie was a gem and I loved it. Sometimes it takes an overly lyrical novel to make a great film. It is very rare that I like the film version better than a book, but this is one of those cases.
I'm glad I read the book. I got to explore the characters more deeply. Now I want to see the movie again.
My husband, who pursued a doctorate in philosophy and cannot be bothered reading most fiction, picked it up afterwards, finished it, and declared it exceptional.
Somehow Michaels has managed to write page-turning prose that has the flavor of poetry. This author is, indeed, an artist.
Most recent customer reviews
Fugitive Pieces, by Anne Michaels, is a very poetic piece. Although written as a novel, it was like reading a very long poem in which the words were beautifully crafted together... Read morePublished on Nov. 27 2013 by Sam Couture Reviews
Most of this book likely went over my head, but the writing is so achingly beautiful it doesn't even matter. Read morePublished on Aug. 6 2013 by R. A. Kerr
I definitely had a great experience purchasing this item from Amazon.ca.
The product arrived on time (despite the fact that it came from overseas), and it was in stellar... Read more
The imagery in this book is in a league of its own. I'm not the least bit surprised to see that the author is a poet as well. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2007 by Richard de Almeida
This entertaining page-turner was a pure joy to experience. Rarely does a novel come along that perfectly incorporates history with fiction to produce a piece of literature that... Read morePublished on March 20 2003 by Tom Kapsimalis
This book will be a classic. Anne Michaels has written the best book I have ever read! Read it!
It is amazing.
The diction, literary devises, etc. are wonderful. Read more
The beginning of this book was greatly written, but throughout the rest of the book I was lost. It kept switching from different perspectives and to different times. Read morePublished on March 18 2002 by Cindy Willson
This is one of the most powerful books I've ever read. The power of her poetry, her words, is astounding. It was like waking from a dream...Published on Feb. 10 2002 by Marc J. Fine
Fugitive Pieces is filled with stunningly written prose that makes you stop and ponder. Although I appreciate the prose, the book lacks any type of plot, and the characters are so... Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2002