Thursday, June 21, 2012

The watch that ends the night-Allan Wolf

Arrogance and innocence, hubris and hope–twenty-four haunting voices of the Titanic tragedy, as well as the iceberg itself, are evoked in a stunning tour de force.
Millionaire John Jacob Astor hopes to bring home his pregnant teen bride with a minimum of media scandal. A beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers the first stirrings of love. And an ancient iceberg glides south, anticipating its fateful encounter. The voices in this remarkable re-creation of the Titanic disaster span classes and stations, from Margaret (“the unsinkable Molly”) Brown to the captain who went down with his ship; from the lookout and wireless men to a young boy in search of dragons and a gambler in search of marks. Slipping in telegraphs, undertaker’s reports, and other records, poet Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse at the lives behind the tragedy, told with clear-eyed compassion and astounding emotional power.

The story of the Titanic in verse.
This book changes every few pages to a different style and point of view. You’re got Billionaires, workers, cooks and bakers, the shipbuilder, the the con man, and officers–each of their voices committed to paper in some way, the styles vary depending on the person.
Allan Wolf does such an amazing job writing from the view points of a diverse group of people, in most books the writer goes into one head, or maybe two, maybe three. But there are about 26 different voices in this book and they all bring their view and life experience to the book in some way–you’d think it was written by these people, not by one man. There isn’t anything in the writing that gives you that false feeling.
Sometimes the voices are captured within a letter or verses of poems, through telegraphs and even through the oncoming ice.
The whole book is filled with slight changes in format that make it that much more terribly haunting.
It is pure artistry and amazing writing.
Not only does the writer effectively get into the mind of a fourteen year old girl without a hitch he also embodies the ice, and the ship rat, and the shipbuilder, the baker, the millionaire and the Captin himself. You can tell this book was well–and thoroughly researched.
There is no direct story line here, as it is all made up in verse and changes to a new life every page or so. You see how all their lives are so separated at first and slowly all become equal humans in cold water once all the boats have been launched.
The lines of wealth slowly separate, the working class and first class men. As the survivors are rescued  you see those lines go back up.
You also see how every passenger’s life was intricately entwined together. After finishing in one persons eyes, you see that same person through different eyes and in some slight way each character makes a subtle impact on their life. 
Quite literally Allan Wolf transports you to a different time period, to a series of lives that were pretty much a mystery. Of course it is fiction, but well researched and, pretty real.
At the end he uses notes to explain the making of this novel and he also demonstrates how well informed he is about the subject and admits to mistakes that he may have made. 
I bought this book on the anniversary of the Titanic, feeling drawn to it for obvious reasons.
And at the very end you’re hanging on just as tightly as the passengers.
I recommend this book, though be forewarned.
It is an emotional read.

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