“I can allow myself to write the truth; all the people for whom I have lied throughout my life are dead....” writes the heroine of Marlen Haushofer’s The Wall, a quite ordinary, unnamed middle-aged woman who awakens to find she is the last living human being. Surmising her solitude is the result of a military experiment gone awry, she begins the terrifying work of not only survival but also self-renewal.
The Wall is at once a simple and moving journal - with talk of potatoes and beans, of hoping for a calf, of counting matches, of forgetting the taste of sugar and the use of one’s name - and a disturbing meditation on 20th-century history.
©1999 Marlen Haushofer (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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"Stunningly Gorgeous Once Past the Grief"
I can see how listeners can go either way on this: I made myself listen to it at one go because I knew the sorrow of it all might make it difficult to pick up again, but there was soooo much there I wanted to see it through. I know others might listen, think, Crap, what a bummer, and just stop. Oh, DON'T! Yes, the woman (who doesn't bother giving her name as it doesn't matter any longer) speaks slowly, what's the rush after all? (By the way, I listened at x1.25, and it worked out splendidly, flowed well.) Yes, the world has, for all intents and purposes, ended and all she knows may very well be dead. Yes, her own death will be upon her. Yes, she suffers the deaths of animals she loves.
Sounds awful and depressing, right? But only those who aren't listening closely will turn it off and go on to another book because the prose is beautiful, the way the woman picks the truth from the tangles of her thoughts is beautiful, the way she learns to love what is around her is beautiful.
And the way that, through it all, AFTER the very worst, her heart beats with love and with hope, glorious hope? It's drop dead gorgeous! Because the whole book has these wonderful golden threads of love and truth woven in, quiet, yes, no bells or whistles, just simple warmth.
Plus, it made me start looking at the world around me, crows in particular, with new smiles, special affection.
"Haunting, yet unexpectedly realistic"
Lots to think about in this book: how would I react in this situation, what would I do, what would be the worst parts, maybe some good parts? Just as one thinks there is something that has gone unconsidered or that one could argue with the character's actions, the story addresses that point. The narrator is pitch perfect to convey the feel of the story, which is in the form of a report written by perhaps the last person alive: quiet, yet urgent. One can clearly visualize the main character telling the story in her own head as she writes it down.
"Not the most interesting book"
It seemed as if the same territory was covered over and over. I kept hoping and waiting for it to get more interesting, but it never did. I found myself relieved when it was finally over. The narrator wasn't the problem. The storyline was.
"Introspective and a little hard to read/listen to"
I have always had a curiosity about survivor stories. What does one need to know to survive? What does one really need? Consequently I have read a whole lot of books of this ilk. But this one was different.
I particularly enjoyed the introspective thoughts..."stream of consciousness" thoughts that constantly run through this woman's mind. Thoughts of her children and humanity in general. Concerns for her beloved animals. Thoughts of her inadequacies to create and maintain a relatively comfortable nitch for herself and her animals in circumstances that befall them all when she is cut off from what appears to have been a holocaust of death and destruction beyond imagination.
For that is the book.....this lone woman finding herself in circumstances not planned for and in a very precarious position. The book is talk.....her thoughts......her sorrows.......her contemplations of what to do. Like I said, this one was different.
Ms Mazur's voice is somewhat solemn but under the circumstances, this fits somehow.
This was probably the first book I've listened to that took a good five days to complete. Reason was the sadness of it all.....also because the reader's voice was so depressed sounding. As for taking that much time, I consider this a "difficult read" as I am an enormous animal lover and the death of many such cut me to the core. I found myself getting too depressed if I listened to the story too long. I had to put it down for awhile and come back when I felt I was somewhat stronger. It is very sad. If you are seriously depressed already, you might want to look elsewhere.
I recommend this book highly but with warning ahead of time.....animals die and are killed and the lady is beyond consolation with it all.
A difficult read but oh how personal it was! This felt like a real WOMAN who "finds herself" only after she has to decide to go on and through all the losses and difficulties, she is still determined to win in this very precarious existence.
I doubt that I could have done better with this subject or the situation. Bravo! You made me think!
"Strange, moving and unforgettable"
Strange, moving and unforgettable.
There is only one character and while we know little about her events render her "identity" irrelevant and instead we get to know the interior soul of this woman and she is utterly compelling.
I haven't but the performance is excellent.
There is no one moment in the book rather the whole atmosphere and subtext of the book is very powerful.
This book is unlike anything I have read or listened to before I choose it after seeing the film based on the book which was also excellent and the book did not disappoint. It would be hard to categorise this book as just one thing it touches on ecology, spirituality, feminism but in an oblique fashion which is devastating and profound. This book could be called science fiction but it really is in a class of its own. Highly recommended to anyone considering it.
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