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The Revisionist by Helen Schulman

The Revisionist

by Helen Schulman

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Truly dark humor. The problem was I loved it. I have gone back and forth between 3 and 4 stars and I really did like it. I think that sometimes revisiting the past is something that is necessary to move forward and this book was really damn cool.
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  Angel.Carter | Aug 11, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 060960208X, Hardcover)

Near the end of Helen Schulman's The Revisionist, David Hershleder's estranged wife, Itty, asks "Where have you been? Where have you been all of your life?" This is the question that Hershleder has never even known to ask until, at the age of 39, his life begins to crumble. A neurologist who is terrified of his own patients, a man who prefers research to real people, he has spent a lifetime cutting himself off, even from the ones he loves the most. When Itty, who would "rather be lonely alone ... than lonely with [him] again," finally throws him out, he turns to a private research project of his own in an attempt to deaden the pain. He becomes fascinated by a French Holocaust-denier, Jacques LeClerc, who, in the course of attempting to prove scientifically that the Nazi exterminations never happened, comes to the completely opposite conclusion. What happened, Hershleder wonders, "Why did he believe these lies in the first place, and how did he find the courage to face the truth?" Eventually his curiosity becomes so great that he goes to Paris to seek LeClerc out and ask him face to face.

Identity, denial, and the courage to face the truth are themes that Schulman works skillfully throughout all the relationships and story lines in The Revisionist. David Hershleder's mother was herself a survivor of the Holocaust, a fact that shaped her son's sense of self and relationships with others in ways not even he is aware of. As the story of Hershleder's pursuit of LeClerc unfolds, Schulman moves back and forth in time to reveal key events in his relationships with his mother, his wife, his best friend, David Kahn, and his college sweetheart Jodie, with whom he reconnects in the aftermath of his trip to France. What David actually learns from LeClerc is both mundane and surprising. What the hunt reveals about his own career as a denier and revisionist, however, is the key to Helen Schulman's deftly crafted and ultimately satisfying exploration of how the Holocaust continues to haunt even the present generation and what it means to be a survivor. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:19 -0400)

A Jewish doctor from New York becomes obsessed with a book on the denial of the Holocaust to the point where he journeys to Paris to confront the writer. In the process he discovers the reason for the suicide of his mother, herself a Holocaust survivor.… (more)

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