Item description for Tales of Grabowski: Transformations Escap & Other Stories by John Auerbach...
Overview Compromised of two novellas and a number of short stories, presents the life of a young Jew who transforms himself into a Polish shipyard worker to outwit the Nazis, and subsequently struggles with life, death, revenge, and guilt.
Publishers Description Tales of Grabowski comprises two novellas, Transformations and Escape, together with several short stories, all of which tell the story of David Gordon, a young Jew from Warsaw, who transforms himself into Wladyslaw Grabowski, a Polish stoker in the German merchant marines. Auerbach balances the internal tensions between Gordon's desire to fight for revenge and Grabowski's desperate need for survival. Throughout the war, involvement with friends, with espionage and smuggling bring him ever closer to that thin line that separates life from death. Drawing on deeply personal experiences - for it is the story of Auerbach's own survival - Transformations and Escape are undiscovered masterpieces of twentieth century writing.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.64" Width: 7.12" Height: 1.15" Weight: 1.18 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2003
Publisher The Toby Press, LLC
ISBN 190288180X ISBN13 9781902881805
Reviews - What do customers think about Tales of Grabowski: Transformations Escap & Other Stories?
A surprising find Jul 20, 2007
I stumbled upon this book by accident and was very pleasantly surprised as soon as I started reading it. It very soon became impossible to put down.
The initial protagonist is a young Jewish student of philosophy spending the early forties hanging out with his musician friends in a Warsaw ghetto. As the political scene worsens, he turns to his philosopher idols (Spinoza, Schopenhauer, Hume) as one might pray for guidance and strength to endure the horrors of watching his townspeople, and eventually his own mother, being taken away. When The Greats fail to help him, he decides to flee by obtaining false ID of a dead Polish gentile and joins a work crew that lands him in a German war machinery shipyard.
The book's power lies in his process of becoming fluent with his new self, requiring constant vigilance, especially with the challenges of authority figures, camaraderie with co-workers, handling alcohol and the unforeseen. It's very Kafka-esque in flavor, with a deep cerebral thread of mental discipline, paranoia, and reappearances of his former self as he just tries to survive while striving toward haven in Sweden.
The string of thought is so exquisitely played that you become him, and experience the slow, steady burn of anxiety so pervasive that you obsess right along with him. It reminds me a bit of Dostoyevsky's "Crime and Punishment", especially with its ability to make you burst out laughing in the midst of a particularly dark section, but "Tales of Grabowski" has a cleaner and more navigable flow. What's even more remarkable is that it is based on his real life.
Now I can't wait to read "The Owl".
Absorbing Aug 14, 2004
Judging from the short biography on the book jacket, this is something of a roman de clef. It is a simply written, absorbing account of one man's experience of the Holocaust. The man, David Gordon, must maintain control of his emotions, despite his intense anger, and controlled emotion is the tone of this novel (which is broken up into two novellas and packaged with a short non-fiction account). David Gordon must deny his previous identity, psychological as well as biographical, to survive. Grabowski builds on this so that Gordon is sometimes talking to and actively suppressing his former personality. It is a frequently effective literary device, but perhaps a bit overdone.