Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Boy on the Tricycle' by Marcel Weyland and 'The May Beetles' by Baba Schwartz

Gillian Dooley reviews 'The Boy on the Tricycle' by Marcel Weyland and 'The May Beetles' by Baba Schwartz

The Boy on the Tricycle

by Marcel Weyland

Brandl & Schlesinger, $29.95 pb, 256 pp, 9781921556968

Book Cover 2 Small

The May Beetles

by Baba Schwartz

Black Inc., $34.99 hb, 256 pp, 9781863958455

Memoirs of Eastern European children of the 1920s could hardly be more different than this pair. The old age Marcel Weyland describes in The Boy on the Tricycle is a happy outcome for a boy who fled the Nazis. 'Fortunately,' he writes, 'I quite like what I am.' Before World War II, he describes 'a fairly typically, affluent, middle-European and middle-class, and in our case Jewish, household' in the Polish city of Łódź. They were lucky: Marcel's older sister Halina, who worked at the Republika newspaper, foresaw the events of September 1939, and they fled at her urging. Otherwise, 'we would have perished as the bulk of the Jewish population of Łódź, including most of our relatives, perished'. They set off eastwards, escaping Nazi bombs by a combination of luck and Halina's resourcefulness. Another hero was the Japanese consul in Eastern Europe, who devised a scheme to issue Polish Jews with 'transit' visas allowing them to travel to Japan and (relative) safety. By another tortuous series of accidents, the family spent several years in Shanghai.

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Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley

Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in the Music Department at Southampton University. Her publications include an edited book of interviews with Iris Murdoch (2003), V.S. Naipaul, Man and Writer (2006), J.M. Coetzee and the Power of Narrative (2010), and journal articles on a range of literary topics including music in the life and work of Jane Austen. In 2005 she co-edited Matthew Flinders’ Private Journal and in 2014 she published an edition of the correspondence between Iris Murdoch and the Australian radical philosopher Brian Medlin. She has been a regular reviewer for ABR since 2002. She is founding editor of the online journals Transnational Literature and Writers in Conversation.

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