MY NINE LIVES by Benjamin Neiger


: Uncensored Memoirs of a Holocaust Survivor
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Panoramic memoir encompassing the Polish ghetto, the birth of Israel, bedroom tales and everything in between.

Neiger’s life story is certainly worth retelling. Born in a Polish Jewish ghetto in 1931, he grew up to witness the decimation of his community by the Nazis. His tales of massacres and of the inhumane treatment of individuals are chilling, and well worth recording for posterity. His contemplation of a dead body at his feet, his mother’s lucky escape from murder by a soldier over a mere loaf of bread and his own boyhood thoughts about what seemed to be impending death are among the devastating memories that must not be forgotten by current generations. The author’s family managed to flee Poland and he thereby escaped imprisonment in the concentration camps. After surviving the Holocaust, Neiger left for Palestine on the famed ship Exodus, and joined the Israeli army. He was wounded in battle in the Sinai, and provides a riveting account of his experience in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Eventually Neiger immigrated to the United States. While the author’s story is compelling, it’s also replete with unnecessary asides and ill-placed lascivious detours. The author’s active–if not overdeveloped–sex life dominates much of the book, such that most of the closing chapters are a mere laundry list of past affairs. (“My prostate was producing sperms at a lightening speed”). Given the book’s overarching themes, his talk of uncontrollable erections, foreplay with a cousin and even sexual dreams featuring his mother can be quite off-putting. Neiger admits that he is overly chatty, and the book reflects this tendency. It’s a heavy tome that could be pared down considerably by working on the overly conversational tone throughout. These flaws aside, society is better off for having the recollections of yet another Holocaust survivor recorded for the sake of our collective memory.

Far too wordy, but a worthwhile record of a dark and violent era.

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4257-7935-1
Program: Kirkus Indie
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