Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reader's Diary #843- Keith Morgan with Ruth Kron Sigal: Ruta's Closet

I've often heard, but never really related to, people talking about "summer reads." The idea seemed to be that when the weather is hot, readers are not all that interested in exercising their brains, preferring entertaining books with little intellectual substance. As for me, I've never really changed my reading choices based on the weather. I was as inclined to read Stephen King in the winter as I was Margaret Laurence in the summer. Or vice versa.

But with Ruta's Closet, I question whether or not it would be a better winter read. A true story about the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, it's not exactly light fare. I'm usually reading several books at any given time, but usually do a better job balancing it. Maybe it was the high from the summer sun that made me often neglect Ruta's Closet in favour of the less depressing reads. And with Ruta's Closet, I really needed to focus. Focusing mostly on the memories on Ruth Kron Sigal (Ruta), it nonetheless features an abundance of characters and without paying close attention, I often found myself confused as to who was who.

This is a problem with me, the reader, not with Keith Morgan's writing. Morgan's writing was fine, opting for a narrative approach to make the scenes more personable. Sometimes he clearly took liberties with unknowable details (people's emotions, etc), but they were believable and when I was focused, gave me more of a connection with the facts. One problem that wasn't my fault was the abundance of typos. It's a self-published book and the stereotype about such books being rife with spelling mistakes and punctuation errors unfortunately hold true with this one. A good editor would have easily caught these. (Although as Charlotte Gray's Gold Diggers proved, publishing companies don't necessarily guarantee one of those either.)

In any case, Ruta's Closet is an interesting holocaust story, differentiating itself with the other holocaust stories I've heard mostly thanks to the setting. I've heard little about the Lithuanian Jewish population before and of their struggles not only with the Nazi invaders but also with their Russians "liberators."

(Disclaimer: Ruta's Closet was a review copy given to me by the author.)

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