The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell


Next book up and this time The Mrs decided to get involved. She bought me this book as a gift. Some of her friends had talked about it at dinner and, knowing that I was writing this blog, she put two and two together. This isn’t really a book I would pick up myself. I don’t read a lot of fiction and the memoirs of an SS officer during the final solution probably wouldn’t even make it to the top of that list. Having said that though some times it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and read something you wouldn’t usually expose yourself to. This was a controversial book – not just because of the subject matter – with some people thinking it a pile of rubbish and others lauding it as a great work of literature. Personally I thought it was good if flawed. There’s certainly a talented author at work here – some of the sections are fantastically well written and engrossing, the allegorical references to Greek mythology are a step above most bog standard writers. But then there are sections of gratuitous scatological nonsense too. It’s uneven, unlikeable, in fact at times it is downright unpleasant – but then if the point of art (and literature is certainly an art form) is to provoke thought and The Kindly Ones certainly does that.

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