The Boys From Brazil

Early one evening in September of 1974 a small twin-engine plane, silver and black, sailed down onto a secondary runway at São Paulo’s Congonhas Airport, and slowing, turned aside and taxied to a hanger where a limousine stood waiting.

I’d call this a classic as well, but definitely not Brönte/two centuries old/English reading lists classic. This title is Known, either from the movie, the book or both. Ira Levin turns out to be the author of more well-known stories. This is a book classic (opposed to a literature classic, possibly?).

Alive and hiding in South America, Dr. Mengele isn’t finished with the Third Reich just yet. His plans are caught on tape, but the tape destroyed and the taper killed before it can move into the world. Nazi Hunter Yakov Liebermann takes it upon himself – after initial disbelief – to unravel the Nazi plans.

It’s a quick, exciting read, easily understandable why someone turned it into a movie as well. The reader puzzles along with Liebermann, while the world around them shows World War II fatigue. It’s a race against the clock that may not even be working functionally. Maybe it won’t give you the prestige of War and Peace, but it could very well be more fun.

The Boys from Brazil, Ira Levin, Joseph 1976


All this happened, more or less.

Two people close to me told me they weren’t sure this was a book I was going to like. One of them said I shouldn’t count the ‘So it goes’. The text on the back warned me for potential philosophic babble.
This all accounted to me expecting an not-understandable mass of deliriously written paragraphs without a (satisfying) end. I braced myself.

For me – and I realize that I might be looking at this story in just one dimension – Slaughterhouse-5 wasn’t a mess. In fact, it was pretty coherent and I enjoyed several parts of it.

Protagonist Billy Pilgrim survives World War 2 and a plane crash, travels through time, is abducted by aliens and is -by a lot of people- seen as an idiot. The reader follows his travel and his thoughts and as Pilgrim isn’t much impressed with either, nor is the reader.

What I like most, or can appreciate about this book, is that you can take several things from it. Is it but a fantasy in the mind of the ‘I’ person? Is Vonnegut ‘I’ or Pilgrim? Is this nothing more but a War Is Bad message with a lot of pomp? Do you believe Billy Pilgrim or is he sorriest sod alive? Is this even a book? If the reader wants to, it can create different puzzles from the same pieces.

I recommend this novel. It isn’t too crazy, too plain, too fantastical or too boring. It’s a nice puzzle, for the reader to decide what to take away from it.

Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut, Dell 1991 (repr.)