A FLAWED ESCAPE by Boris Kidel


Email this review


A scenario-like psychological novel about the torment of a Jew hiding in Berlin during the black night of Hitler's regime, this features a keenly intelligent hero struggling to keep his soul intact amid the horrors of genocide. The weirdness of underground life is everpresent but not expressionistically detailed with the cliche effects and dark fantasy one might expect. Instead, we get young Kassmann, a failed playwright (he's failed for ten years to get any play written past the first act), who returns from the safety of Paris in 1938 to the despair of Berlin to see his dying mother. As the night deepens, Kassmann murders his father with cyanide when the senile old authoritarian (in 1942) is about to be deported to the Polish ovens. Immediately, Kassmann abandons his forced labor as a stoker at the Berlin electricity plant and becomes one of the city's invisible Jews, his own hole being a bombed-out cellar. Contacting old friends and lovers in an effort to escape, he finds each person he touches for help to be a victim of self-delusion -- they are well-drawn characters, people with strong identities in complex lives. His flight leaves several dead, and is flawed not so much by his mistress' capture but by his recognition that there is no escape from the supersensitive Kassmann, failed lover, with no permanent address in his heart.

Pub Date: Nov. 25th, 1974
Publisher: St. Martin's Press