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Storytelling

Publication Date: 2010-01-31

This is from Eating Animals, Little, Brown 2009, which Publisher's Weekly calls a brilliant memoir-investigation. This story told by the author's grandmother. As he observes, "while this book is the product of an enormous amount of research, and is as objective as any work of jurnalism can be . . ." facts, as important as they are, "don't, on their own, provide meaning--especially when they are so bound to linguistic choices. . . . But place facts in a story, a story of compassion or domination, or maybe both--places them in a story about the world we live in and who we are and who we want to be. . . .

Surely, this resonates strongly with teachers and the world we live in.

"I was always running, day and night, because the Germans were always right behind me. If you stopped, you died. There was never enough food. I became sicker and sicker from not eating, and I'm not just talking about being skin and bones. I had sores all over my body. It became difficult to move. I wasn't too good to eat from a garbage can. I ate the parts others wouldn't eat. If you helped yourself, you could survive. I took whatever I could find. I ate things I wouldn't tell you about.

"Even at the worst times, there were good people, too. Someone taught me to tie the ends of my pants so I could fill the legs with any potatoes I was able to steal. I walked miles and miles like that, because you never knew when you would be lucky again. Someone gave me a little rice once, and I traveled two days to a market and traded it for some soap, and then traveled to another market and traded the soap for some beans. You had to have luck and intuition.

"The worst it got was near the end. A lot of people died right at the end, and I didn't know if I could make it another day. A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into hisshouse and came out with a piece of meat for me."

"He saved your life."

"I didn't eat it."

"You didn't eat it?"

"It was pork. I wouldn't eat pork."

"Why?"

"What do you mean why?"

"What, because it wasn't kosher?"

"Of course."

"But not even to save your life?"

"If nothing matters, there's nothing to save."


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