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The Quorum


The following is reprinted in full from one of our more respected publications, with their express permission.

Untitled: A Review

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The writing of this new history was not a writing: the slow, wintry process was surely more of an amassing. It's freezing in here—the pages are up against the radiator, and so I've turned off the heat, wouldn't want to burn myself alive. Doubtless the estimably anonymous author—no, nameless binder or compiler—didn't just go at a whim and at once to his or her local stationers and purchase a ream and two and three and more, much more, O God much more! whole forests worth ... and then glue or sew them all up together between two covers without pagination, introduction, appendixes, indexes or notes or tables or anything at all. Without words, punctuation, characters. No, each piece of paper he/she and I won't rule out an it saved and arranged, patched together from scraps and bleached and ordered precisely—I'm speculating here—meant and means something, or not. Hard labor for a reason, slaving, or for no reason at all? and whose hard labor? Each face of each piece of paper holds something, is imprinted, scarred, somehow. Or not. And it might mean something or it might not that all of these six million (6,000,000) plus pages (an estimation, an educated guess) are blank. Pure, virgin white, like the snow around Auschwitz. Six million-plus pages might as well be greater than or equal to the palest infinity.

All of which is to write that in intent and execution this history without a title, this Untitled by Anonymous, is the best record of, and commentary on, the Holocaust this reviewer has yet encountered, the best in or out of print produced by, and in, the last half-century. Just as that noble laureate Elie Wiesel filled the need for a new word (holocaust: complete consumption by fire) for a new horror (the Holocaust), this anonymous author—if this massive thing even has an author—has found the only way to write about the event, the idea. Or not. The word is sacred, words strung together are not ... this author didn't have the luxury of naming, of creating, of defining, merely of observing. So, what does it mean? Nothing, possibly. And what does it have to teach? Nothing, maybe ... But it is not mawkish. It is not patronizing. It's not insulting. So, the skeptical reader—(and the good reader is a skeptical reader)—will think to ask, to challenge: Well, then, what is it?

It's an obviously enormous volume, very heavy, weighing-in at 136 kilos on my bathroom scale. In some editions, the (leather) cover is black and blank and its pages are white and blank. In other editions, this coloring scheme is reversed (white blank cover, black blank pages) ... I know because I imagine. But it is not a diary. This is not Anne being Frank. If anything, it is an anti-diary, the opposite of selfish thoughts. The blankness actually discourages writing, the pages resist filling. Neither is it pornography. The book is free and it's sold nowhere. Mine was sent to me from the unnamed publisher, direct (the postage should've bankrupted someone), in plain wrapping without a return address (and the postmark is badly blurred) or enclosed supplementary materials. My doorbell rang, and three uniformed men, whose faces I can't recall, as huge as they were unknown to me, moved some furniture around, hauled the package into my dining room, unloaded it, put the box in my living room, refusing my questions and a tip. So how, that reader, my reader, my voice, thinks to ask ... my voice echoes in the box, in the living room, the box where I've moved my writing table and chair, echoes something terrible ... how does this reviewer know that it's about the Holocaust?

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