I’m reading the most recent installment in Almudena Grandes’s Spanish Civil War series titled Dr. Garcia’s Patients, and, God, am I angry or am I very angry. The series consists of extremely long volumes that are soppy and neoliberal like there is no tomorrow. But I’ve gotten used to that, so it’s OK. Kind of. What slaughtered me about this novel is that the author decided to get into the subject of the Holocaust and did it in a way that grates on my sensibilities enormously.
Grandes spends 200 pages telling us about a young Spanish fellow who is kind of dumb and kind of pathetic but you get used to him over the time she dedicates to talking about him and kind of even like him.
And then he goes to war and slaughters hundreds of Jews in a concentration camp in Estonia.
After which the author spends 200 pages more humanizing him even further. Yes, he murdered Jews. But, but, but! He is a great friend! And he falls deeply and beautifully in love with a girl! Surely, somebody who is capable of such profound feelings can’t be all bad, right? I mean, Jews, Schmews, but those concentration camp Jews are all kind of weird and kind of maybe even deserve being killed. Because everybody else resists, everybody else goes down fighting. Russians, Ukrainians, Spanish Republicans, Nazi Germans. They all fight even in the most hopeless of situations. But the Jews? They just march stupidly and patiently towards their death and don’t resist. I mean, are they even human?
I’m not inventing this shit, folks. Please understand that I couldn’t invent it if I tried. I’m retelling, very closely to the text, the line of argument advanced in it. Yes, it’s advanced by a Spanish soldier fighting on the Nazi side but there is never any sort of an opposing sort of view.
I understand that the discussion of the “human side” of Nazis can exist. But fuck this shit, does it really have to? The Holocaust didn’t happen 500 years ago. It’s in living memory, and with neo-Nazism on the rise, do we really need to delve into the depths of the Nazi mentality in a way that pretty much excuses it?
Almudena Grandes, fuck you, lady. I have read pretty much every word that you ever wrote, you wordy old bat. And this is what you go and do. You should have just stuck to writing the S&M porn that made you famous.
I’m only half-way through the book (it’s almost 800 pages), but I needed to get this off my chest because it’s poisoning me from the inside.