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The Detour by Andromeda Romano-Lax
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This was an odd little book. The story is really interesting - a young German man working for the Reich, bringing artwork to Hitler's collection - in this case, overseeing the transfer of The Discus Thrower from Rome to Germany.

The ending was absurd (I thought) and the subplot of the third nipple a bit tiresome, although I get where she was going - trying to show how ideas about purity and physicality infused every day life . Still, a fascinating subject, though maybe not the best week to read about fascism ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 27, 2016 |
Brief Summary:
Ernst Vogler worked for the Nazi Party. He was responsible for helping the country acquire great works of art. He stumbled into this job through happenstance, a misunderstanding of his actions years before. Still, he loved art, which helped him forget the pain in his past. His main goal was to avoid notice, to do his work, and to not question. In 1938, he was sent to Italy on a simple mission: to pick up and return with The Discus Thrower, which Germany purchased from Italy. Of course, this mission was not without complications, which included betrayal, romance and a slight detour.

The setting of this book is incredibly interesting to the historian in me. The focus of this historical fiction novel is on WWII Germany, but on a part not usually covered. Hitler wanted to be a painter. However, his landscapes were not deemed especially good, especially with modern art on the rise. Thus, the back-up plan was blame everyone else for his failures and take over the world so people would think he was the best. (Note: I may be simplifying things.)

Using his power, Hitler set out to squelch modern art, calling it degenerate art. Much was burned. Hitler also set out to acquire famous antique works of art, like The Discus Thrower. These pieces served as status symbols, but may also truly have been Hitler's favorites. Anyway, Hitler's touch in this story is largely as art collector.

Unfortunately, I did not much enjoy the actual story. It was okay, but it was in no way outstanding. The problem I think was in Ernst, and in the way Romano-Lax decided to tell the story. Ernst never coalesced into a person with a personality for me. He was a person of a couple of interests and with some serious lingering issues from childhood. These facts just didn't add up to a person.

Also, even when he 'fell in love' or watched someone die, the feelings never came through the writing. I suspect that this has to do with the way the story is told. Romano-Lax decided to use a frame of Ernst as an old man, going back to Italy. The rest of the tale is Ernst remembering what happened there all of those years ago. These parts are told in the past tense, and the audience is warned early on that his memory is not to be trusted. All of this just served to make a big disconnect between me as a reader and the character's experience. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
he Detour by Andromeda Romano-Lax

A story set in pre-World War II Italy, The Detour is a story of a German man sent to Italy to retrieve the marble statue of the discus thrower. But it is more than a story of art, war, or ethnicity. Andromeda Romano-Lax brings a story of the soul.
Ernst Volger has one job to do. He is to go to Rome and bring the coveted statue to Hitler. Nothing seems to go right, and too much doesn't feel right. Volger finds himself in a truck with two young Italians and a crate of art history in the back. He passes beautiful scenery that he just cannot see. His mind is always on the past and the scars that exist physically and emotionally within him. A double-crossing and a death changes everything. His focus is not on the art so much anymore. He begins to see the art within the person and more of himself.

The story moves along gradually as so much of the story is within the mind of Volger. You travel with him from his youth where he deals with his own faults and relations he had with his family through the countryside of Italy where he and two men who are to help him transport the statue become acquainted. It is not long before Volger is closer to these men than he had been with his own family. Death visits them and Volger begins to discover that art can be found in more than classical pieces. It can be found within the soul and body of mankind.

Romano-Lax's writing is artistic within its own right. As the status of the discus thrower is described, you could almost reach out and touch the cool marble. The words come to life before you as you read. You'll feel the Italian sun on your skin and see the wind ripple across the fields of sunflowers.

This is an excellent piece of contemporary fiction that will live beyond this year and into the years to come. Its words are timeless with so much for us to learn.

Note: This book was provided by the publisher with no expectation of a review. ( )
  RebeccaGraf | Oct 7, 2012 |
This was an interesting depiction of a weak willed art appraiser in Germany in 1936 at the height of Hitlers power. Ernst Vogler is 24 years old and bungles his assignment to bring back the statue the Discus Thrower back to Germany. Ernst has taken advantage of a misunderstanding of the Nazi party. Ernst left the stadium at the exact moment Jessie Owens won the gold medal. The Nazi party approves of what they think is a racist attitude and Ernst reaps the benefits. The book outlines his adventures of his bungled assignment.

This book is a nice study familial relationships, race and the attitudes of youth. An interesting study on the attitudes in Germany in the day making a nice historical portrait -- even with some unloveable characters.

Reader received a complimentary copy from Good Reads First Reads. ( )
  dgmlrhodes | Jul 8, 2012 |
The prose in this book is astonishing. The descriptions of the sculptures and the scenery were a joy to read. Working for Hitler and his Sonderprojekte, after his mentor and boss is imprisoned at Dachau, a very young Vogler is sent to Italy to purchase a ancient copy of The Discus Thrower. What follows is a grouping of misunderstandings, detours and other adventures with the two brothers who are driving the truck to take the statue to the Italian border. The history of much famous art is discussed as is the state of Germany, the Olympic games and how Vogler finds himself in this position. Extremely well done. ( )
  Beamis12 | Feb 27, 2012 |
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Dispatched by the Third Reich to collect a classical Roman marble statue and relinquish it to Gestapo custody, Ernst Vogler discovers that his escorts are pursuing nefarious side agendas and leaving him to fend for himself.

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