Book 921 Anne Michaels – Fugitive Pieces

Fugitive Pieces is a book I’ve been wanting to read for about four years now. It’s been on my shelf for that long as well. Finally I had a chance to read it and I’m super glad I did.

Jakob Beer’s parents are polish and killed in a Nazi raid in 1941 , Beer’s sister is kidnapped and never found. As Jakob is wandering lost, he comes across a geologist called Athos, who adopts him and takes Jakob to a small Greek island. Although he is happier and attempts to become a poet, Beer cannot shake off his sordid past and it returns to him in the form of nightmares.

Eventually Athos and Jakob move to Canada and settle down in Toronto.  However, Jakob’s nightmares still persist, even after he marries. Eventually his past causes a divorce.

As he decides to return to Greece and visits Canada sporadically and it is during one of these visits that he meets Michaela, the only person to make him accept his past. Soon after Beer is killed in a car accident at the age of 60.

The next part of the book shifts to  Ben, who’s parents survived a prison camp and many chapters are dedicated to his mother’s and father’s idiosyncrasies, which Ben cannot accept. To make matters worse Ben finds out that his parents have kept a secret from him and yet not from his wife.

Ben finds solace in reading Beer’s poetry. One day at the insistence of  a colleague he decides to go to Greece in order to find out more about Beer and Ben ends up finding himself in Greece.

Despite that fact that the plot is superb, Michae’s – a poet – focuses a lot on the language. It’s mathematical precise and evokes every emotion possible from the very clever puns to the harrowing descriptions of loss.  Many times I would just re-read whole pages cause the wording left me breathless.

Fugitive pieces is a mighty important and influential book, it has an aesthetic quality that I’ve only encountered with Michael Cunningham’s The Hours and it’s leaving the same impact on me.  To date I’ve never read about holocaust in such an affecting manner!