Friday, February 8, 2013

HHhH by Laurent Binet

How is it possible to write an entertaining book about Reinhard Heydrich, “Hitler’s Hangman,” “the Blond Beast,” the architect of the Nazis’ Final Solution? Lawrence Binet has done so by writing a Metafiction in which the subject of the book is the actual writing of the book.  HHhH (Himmler’s Hirn Heist Heydrich or Himmler’s Brain is Called Heydrich,) is a fictional recounting of the attempted assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by two Czechoslovakian partisans. By making this story his own story, the author is able to distance the reader from the tension and horror of the actual story, that is, until the end. The bare bones of the plot are that in late 1941, three men parachuted into German-occupied Czechoslovakia for the purpose of assassinating Heydrich and in mid-1942 made their attempt. But by inserting himself into the book, the author has made the story into so much more. In the course of explaining the history of Nazism and the beginnings of World War II, he makes the book an examination of courage, cowardice, wisdom and stupidity.