Monday, 24 August 2009

Two Non-Fiction Books

I seem to be soaking up my Non-Fiction at the momnet, and I even read one which wasn't a memoir!

Normal by Amy Bloom
Eva of The Striped Armchair wrote a fantastic review of this a few weeks back, if it hadn't been for her review I wouldn't ever have thought to read a book like this.
Normal is a collection of essays written by Amy Bloom, I couldn't believe how readable they were, and how interesting.
The first chapter focuses on transexuals, particularly male to female transexuals. It discusses the details and forms of surgery and hormonal treatment available, and boy does it sound painful. Alongside this Amy Bloom speaks to many people who are either in the process of or have had some form of surgery to change their appearance to a person of the opposite gender. As well as the stories of these men Bloom is open with us about the way she is looking at people trying to figure out if they had had a sex change or not.
The second section is about crossdressing men and their wives. She describes the men's need to dress as woman as a compulsion, something they absolutely have to do and have no control of. As she talks to the men they all come across as really conservative, they have socially upstanding jobs like Ministers and Managers, they have families and strong moral values. Many of the wives, presented in the book, don't find out abaout their husbands until way down the line and when they do they feel they have to stay and be supportive.
The third chapter about Hermaphrodites was fair more descriptive of the surgery and didn't have the same level of personal stories in it, as a result I wasn't as interested in this chapter. I had studied hermaphrodites as part of my sociology course in uni so I knew about some of the stuff which was discussed.
World Citizen Challenge
Non-Fiction 5
999 Non-Fiction

Night by Elie Wiesel

I had this on audiobook to listen to, it is one of the 1001 books to read before you die so when I saw the audiobook was part of a bookring I snapped it up.
Night is a memoir about Elie Wiessel experienced in the concentration camps.
As a young boy he is an extremely devout Jew, he visits the synagoge every day and begs a neighbour to educate him about his religion as his father refuses to.
As the war looms the town are warned by a local man of the persecution of the Jewish, but they refuse to listen to him. Snatched away during the night they soon find that his unbelieveable story was all true. 15 year old Elie is seperated from his mother and sister and goes with his father into the male side of the camp. For a long time they are not called to work or moved to other camps because they claim they are unskilled labourers. When they finally get chosen to move to another camp they know that their time is running out.
Elie's father is hospitalised in the final days of the war, begging for hos sons help in his final moments, Elie finds he is unable o help his father, he has to help himself instead.
The book is very short and very powerful, however as I'd read Primo Levi's If This is a Man many years ago I wasn't as shocked by the memoir as I may have been, the story is very similar to that of Levi, and tells of less shocking details in the camps.
World Citizen Challenge
Non-Fiction 5
In Their Shoes
999 (Non Fiction)


Eva said...

I'm glad you enjoyed Normal! :)

Vivienne said...

Normal sounds good.