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My own alternative hypothesis : don’t read it

June 17, 2010 7 comments

A friend, whose opinion I value, lent me La Part de l’autre (The Alternative Hypothesis), by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt saying it was a good book. It is about what would have happened if Hitler had been admitted in Vienne Art School in 1908 instead of failing to get in.

I was reluctant to read it because of the subject. I had already read The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, which has a similar plot and I doubted Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt could do better. Moreover, I kind of get tired of stories taking place during WWII.

 I started it anyway.

 The book is constructed with parallel stories: Hitler’s story (the real one) and Adolf H’s story, the one in which Hitler becomes an art student. Chapters alternate from one story to the other. The style is tolerable, obviously not a breakthrough in literature.

 I decided to quit reading it when young Adolf H faints at school any time he needs to draw a naked woman and when his physician, Dr Bloch (!!), takes him an appointment with Dr Freud. That was too much.

 I reminded me why I seldom read French present-day writers: they are often a disappointment. Either the subject is centred on their own petty dramas (The “Me, Myself and I” writers) or it’s so dreary or depressing you think they want to create a suicide wave among their readers.

 As far as The Alternative Hypothesis is concerned, it is definitely a book to avoid, to my point of view.

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