Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Mad Desire to Dance-Elie Wiesel

A Mad Desire to Dance
Elie Wiesel
Knopf, Feb 17 2998, $26.95
ISBN: 9780307266507

In the late 1990s in New York, sixty year old Polish Jew Doriel Waldman knows his nightmarish childhood has left him depressed, lonely, and believing he is going insane. He reluctantly turns to psychoanalyst Dr. Therese Goldschmidt for help though he believes the shrink will do nothing to relieve him of his demons. His attitude towards the doctor is belligerent as he rants at her in anger about his youth and his solitary future.

Doriel was born in 1936. He and his father hid from the Nazis during the occupation; his two sisters were less fortunate having been killed by the bastards and he assumes suffered much worse atrocities from these beasts. His mother was part of the Polish underground resistance; ironically, God played quite a trick on the Waldman male survivors when after the war ended she died in an accident. He further explains he feels guilty as a Jew in WW II Europe who cannot even claim being a Holocaust survivor even if he was a preadolescent at the time. Therese begins to connect with her angry recalcitrant patient as he begins to understand the traumas that have left him melancholy for five decades and a slight flicker of hope as he returns to his religion for solace but even there he finds the demon inside him.

This intense look at survivors of traumas years after the events have occurred is an intense superb but extremely difficult tale to read. The audience learns what haunts Doriel (through Therese’s notes) as his memories deleted the good times leaving behind an expanded bad. Fans of Elie Wiesel will appreciate this powerful character driven tale of the long term effects of a trauma on the soul of a survivor.

Harriet Klausner

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