Emotional Arithmetic

by Matt Cohen | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0886193621 Global Overview for this book
Registered by winggypsysmomwing of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 12/30/2007
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by winggypsysmomwing from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, December 30, 2007
I picked this book up at the St. Vital Library book sale.

Journal Entry 2 by winggypsysmomwing at Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Friday, May 04, 2012
This is the second book by Matt Cohen that I have read. I read Elizabeth and After a year and a half ago and enjoyed it. I knew that I had this other book on my TBR pile and that I wanted to read it. When I decided for John Mutford's Canadian reading challenge to read 13 books by Canadians who have died I felt this would be a good choice.

I didn't like this book quite as much as Elizabeth and After. This book was published in 1990 so maybe Cohen polished his craft a bit more in the ensuing 9 years. I just never felt emotionally involved with any of the characters in this book and I did with the Elizabeth and After crew.

Simply put this is a story of 3 people who survived the Holocaust. Melanie and Christopher were children who ended up in the Drancy concentration camp without their parents. Jakob Bronski took them under his wing and Melanie and Christopher were never transported to the death camp at Auschwitz. After the war Melanie went back to the US and Christopher returned to England. They thought Jakob, who had been sent to Auschwitz, had perished but years later some of his poetry was smuggled from Russia to the Western world and Melanie started corresponding with him. Melanie is married to Professor David Winters, a history professor who was once her teacher. Christopher is a fairly famous novelist. Melanie has suffered many mental breakdowns, maybe a result of her traumatic childhood or maybe a result of her husband's philandering. At the start of the novel she is in a mental institution but she is about to be released because Jakob is coming to Canada to live with her and David. Christopher will escort him to Canada so the three survivors will all be together again.

The title of the book comes from this paragraph in the first chapter:
My mother once said aboutmy father--Professor Doctor David Winters, the eminent or at least emeritus historian--that he passed jugement the way other people passed wind. For her, with her files, her dossiers, her records of humanity's crimes, jugement was a matter of arithmetic. Emotional arithmetic.

There's a good story here and some great writing. It's not a bad piece of work; I guess I was expecting more after reading Elizabeth and After. I think I'll have to try him again and see how another book strikes me.

I'm going to reserve this book for the 2012 Canada Day release challenge.

Journal Entry 3 by winggypsysmomwing at Flying J gas station in Headingley, Manitoba Canada on Monday, July 02, 2012

Released 8 yrs ago (7/2/2012 UTC) at Flying J gas station in Headingley, Manitoba Canada


I left this book on the payphone just inside the front entrance. I thought this was an appropriate title for a gas station as I (and lots of other people) get emotional about the cost of gasoline these days when crude prices are low but pump prices are still high.

This release is for the 2012 Canada Days release challenge.

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