It will be a while before I share my thoughts on The Seventh Gate by Richard Zimler because at 600 pages and with other reading it's taking its time and even longer because I'm enjoying it so much therefore a great deal of savoured reading in progress.
I know absolutely that there is terrible trauma in the offing, how can there not be?
Every single time I pick it up I'm back into the thread of the story within a page.
Pre-war Berlin and a cast of German, Jewish and physically challenged characters who are already starting to attract the attention of the Nazi authorities but who have all won a place in my heart thanks to Richard Zimler's very down to earth realistic portrayal.None of them are perfect or idealised, they all have their flaws and share them and you love them all the more so when the trouble really hots up I'm likely to be in pieces.
Great emotional management of this reader by Richard Zimler but all very caringly done so far.
It was therefore a handy coincidence that a book arrived from Souvenir Press entitled Address Unknown by Kressman Taylor and written with breathtaking prescience in 1938, its publication in a magazine causing something of a sensation.Published as a book by Simon & Schuster the following year it sold fifty thousand copies, no mean feat in those days and probably now.
A series of fictional letters between two business partners, one Jewish who remains in the US, the other German who returns to settle in his homeland in 1932. The end result, a tiny novella in epistolary form and shining a spotlight on life in Germany in the years immediately before the war from a very unusual perspective.
Events and attitudes unfold gradually in these letters and as an eavesdropper with a phD in hindsight you read a great deal between the lines.The twist is clever and to say much more would be to deflect the knockout punch of this tiny book.Suffice to say my flabber was gasted as I put two and two together and came up with Kressman Taylor's incredibly clever plot.
Kressman Taylor incidentally born Kathrine Kressman in Portland,Oregon in 1903. In 1938 this story considered "too strong to appear under the name of a woman" hence the literary pseudonym.Over the years Address Unknown slipped into obscurity and was only resurrected in 1995 "to commemorate the liberation of the concentration camps" and has thus found a whole new audience and one willing to recognise that is does indeed contain a message that is timeless and relevant no matter what the year.