Several years ago, I read Jan Yoors book, The Gypsies, so now I'm reading Crossing: A Journal of Survival and Resistance in World War II.
Crossing is a unique inside view of a young man's coming of age in the horror and violence of Nazi-occupied Europe. In it, Jan Yoors describes, simply, evocatively, with the restrained power that made The Gypsies a "beautifully written treasure," what happened to his Gypsy "family" and friends, and to him, in those bitter years: how they were hunted down by the Gestapo; how he made the agonizing decision to persuade the Gypsies to join the resistance, against their beliefs and their most profound instincts; how they (and he) were initiated into the arts of sabotage and killing; how they suffered death and torture and the destruction of their way of life; how in despair and loneliness they retained their courage and their will to live; and how he himself, imprisoned, beaten, driven to live alone as a hunted fugitive, drunk with the daring of his own acts, learned once more, in the words of his Gypsy foster father, Pulika, "to open again the closed fist--for only life makes sense."
Crossing is a moving and gripping work of literature, at once an unforgettable portrait of a vanished way of life, a decimated people, a nightmare of experience, and the precise description of what happened to the mind and soul of a young man for whom violence and death became, by force of circumstance, the ordinary themes of life.
Opening: (from the prologue)
Until the age of twelve I grew up in what seems to me, in retrospect, to have been as close to paradise as any man, or child, can wish.
My father was a painter who became a stained-glass designer. Of Flemish stock, he had grown up in the south of Spain, and his fond recollections of Andalusia pervade my own early memories like reflections of the Garden of Eden itself. And of those memories the Gitanos (the Gypsies of Spain) were an integral part. As long ago as I can remember, the Gypsies were part of my world.
With a smile semi-recognition dawned, and I told Pulika that which obviously he knew--that though we were doomed to die we were still capable of wanting to live a while longer. Had not he himself admonished me once not to let the knowledge of death get between myself and life, to do as true Rom did even in the face of darkness; to assert joy.
Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: Grab your current readOpen to a random pageShare two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! To see what others are sharing on the Teaser Tuesdays, check the comments at: http://adailyrhythm.com/
Share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you are reading. Here's the link: Bibliophile By The Sea