Grey Gecko author Leon Berger was asked to write a ‘dream review’ of his fantastic non-fiction memoir Lunch With Charlotte in association with the book’s inclusion in the Best Indie Books of 2013 Top 5 Nonfiction category. Here’s a snippet of the review.
In the firmament of literary accomplishment, only one genre is sacrosanct, completely secure from ink-stained critique, and that, of course, is the form that concerns itself with the Holocaust. Within this milieu, all prose is valid, every story worthy of admiration, each testimony a heartbreak unto itself.
Yet even here, if we’re honest, some narratives shine more brightly than others. Why, for example, do we especially recall Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel? What made Styron’s Sophie and Keneally’s Schindler such memorable characters? How did Spiegelman’s strangely clever “Maus” affect so many of us?
At the risk of entering Tweet response hell, I would suggest that it’s because on these particular pages, beyond the fundamental horror of genocide there’s something else at work. Call it another layer, an extra dimension that touches us at a deeper level. A young girl locked away who longs for a simple tree. An ordinary woman who is forever consumed by the tragic choice she once had to make. A slick operator who joins the Nazi party out of greed, then somehow finds inner redemption by saving Jews from the gas chamber. In each case, it’s not the atrocity that makes it exceptional, it’s the personalization of it.
Such a saga, too, is Leon Berger’s Lunch With Charlotte.