Yeah. I did it. I finished Sophie's Choice. It's basically the saddest book ever, so this will be gif-heavy to try to balance the Holocaust + domestic abuse goin' on. First: HURRAY IT'S DONE!
But then there's also the whole "Oh it's done." *sadface* Because, and despite what I am going to say regarding its IMMENSE SADNESS, it is amazing. William Styron is a Writer Who Can Write. He's all "LOOK AT THE MAGICAL MIXTURE I MAKE WITH WORDS! I have a CRAFT and I do it well." He kiind of reminds me of Nabokov (whose autobiography I still have to read this year), because both pay SUCH careful attention to which words they're going to use, so you never feel like they were just trying to use whatever to communicate an idea — no, each word is important and chosen for a reason.
This can also be maddening because, knowing that, it can take forever to read if you really want to appreciate it.
Oh, right, what is Sophie's Choice about. Essentially it's William Styron as the narrator, talking about the summer of 1947 when at age 22, living in Brooklyn and trying to be a writer, he met a woman (Sophie) and her boyfriend (Nathan). It pretty much alternates between Sophie being beaten up by Nathan when he goes into a schizophrenic rage, and her telling Styron (or "Stingo" as he's nicknamed for some reason he outlines early on) about her time in Auschwitz.
It's pretty much a Holocaust book. I don't even know how to begin to do it justice, because I'm not one of those bloggers who likes to, y'know, "think" before she writes things down, but basically when you finish the book, despite every page being something hugely sad, you feel like you've learned and experienced a stunning amount. I finished it on the El last night headed back into Chicago, and I just kind of...sat there after closing it. And then thought about how much more I felt like I knew, about the camps and human experience and just — damn, it's an amazing book.
True, this will be you every 50 pages or so:
But it's worth it.
Towards the end, Sophie recounts a scene with a Jewish resistance fighter, who speaks of encountering a hostile Polish Resistance group:
"He looked at Wanda, filled with this rage and despair, and said, 'Three pistols I get, and sneers and laughter, to hold off twenty thousand Nazi troops. In the name of God, what is happening?'"
World War II was seventy years ago, which is NOT LONG AGO ENOUGH. At the very least, this book allows you space to contemplate how on EARTH that atrocity happened. How did we allow that? And by immersing yourself in it, you are able to leave the comfort and relative peace of your surroundings and solidify in your mind the knowledge that we cannot allow it to happen again.