Thursday, April 25, 2013
The line had already split once, tearing men from women, husbands from wives, brothers from sisters. It was at that fork that Jacob and Max said goodbye to Eidel and Lydia. It was this fork that challenged their resolve once again.
The division was clear. The healthiest men were being sent one way while the unhealthiest, youngest, and oldest were sent another. Max was tall for his age, a luxury that his sister who was suffering from a cold didn't have when his mother and she came upon a similar break. They said goodbyes there, with Eidel clutching her daughter's silk handkerchief, knowing all too well that the promise of a clinic for her daughter was a lie.
"Fourteen is a child," Jacob insisted. "Today, you're eighteen."
With the infamous concentration camp name in the title, plenty of readers will turn away from this gem. But the book, which avoids stereotypes and shields against some atrocities by confining itself to the labor camps that made up Auschwitz, isn't a story of death.
Instead, The Thief Of Auschwitz is story of survival and sacrifice, one that author Jon Clinch makes clear by revealing that Max Rosen is alive and well in New York City straight away. He is an artist who has recently celebrated his 88th birthday, which included the four years his father made him add at Auschwitz. It's his story to tell, one that he never shared with anyone before.
It was his prerogative to keep what happened 60 years ago his secret. As he said, most people were done with such stories, confining them to bad memories best left forgotten. Besides, his family didn't always identify with being Jewish. They had even stopped attending the synagogue until young Lydia drew them back.
His mother, Eidel, would have preferred they spend the day in the mountains so she could paint. It's what she did. She painted upstairs or outdoors and Jacob cut hair, a barber who had inherited enough from his father to get by but felt it was important to teach his children a proper work ethic. It was his responsibility to tend to their future after all, not his father's money.
It was his responsibility, even if the war descended down upon them.
It might have even been their subtle disassociations that convinced them not to flee Poland outright. It was worse in Warsaw and Krakow, but not the Carpathian peaks where they were at the onset. In fact, by the time they knew they couldn't wait any longer, it was too late.
The best they could do was try to stay one step ahead of the encroaching soldiers. And eventually, they were swept up in the chaos. The three of them, after Lydia was taken away on the first day, would do their best to survive and, above all for Jacob and Eidel, protect their remaining child.
Eventually, the means to do it would be made clear. Jacob could cut hair better than the current barber. And Eidel, once her hidden talent was discovered, could ingratiate even the foulest of demons. In fact, she would have to succumb if she hoped to keep her son alive.
A few graphs about third-time author Jon Clinch.
A few years later, he would go on to write Kings Of The Earth. And then, relying on his advertising experience, wrote What Came After under the name Sam Winston, a book he marketed without the benefit of a publisher. The book sold 10,000 copies, convincing Clinch that his next outing would be self-published too.
The Thief Of Auschwitz By Jon Clinch Surprises At 8.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
This is one of those books that would have been easily dismissed by most publishers, especially those who might never get past the title. His agent wasn't thrilled with his decision to use the CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform in 2011, but the book has long since moved beyond Amazon.
The Thief of Auschwitz by Jon Clinch has since published on other platforms. This includes his book on Nook at Barnes & Noble. Earlier this year, his book was added to iBooks. You can also find out more about Clinch on his website. Paul Hecht narrates the audiobook.