Tuesday, June 10, 2008

City of Thieves

by Sarah Marine

2007 was the second year in a row that I ended with reading
The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Having spent the bulk of the 365 days engrossed in all works by Dean Young, Rebecca Solnit and a variety of other poetic and non-fictional tomes, I found it quite difficult to transition into a proper novel, and I'm sure you all know what it's like grasping for palpable literature in the wake of McCarthy.

City of Thieves from Stacie's events shelf was easy enough- no alarms or barking dogs- and upon taking it home, devoured it. I literally sat on the couch and refused to eat or respond to Dr. Godsave until completing the frantic read. It wasn't until then that I realized what I had been missing with the novel. City of Thieves was fantastic in resisting the writers-workshop-bred urge to thinly experiment with form and narrative. The book was fun and
exciting and I couldn't put it down. Now, I am aware that if someone was recommending a book to me and used the words "fun", "exciting", "couldn't put it down", I would avoid the thing at all costs.
City of Thieves, however, was all of those things, minus a love story, set in the center of a starving city and just plain SMART. David Benioff has clearly benefitted from his screenwriting experience, incorporating a cinematic feel to the action, which is again and again refreshed by the imagination and comfortable circumference of the story. The only comparison I can think to draw is to Jeanette Winterson's The Passion. I really enjoyed this book, and am willing to admit that I have read it twice.

More on
City of Thieves
by Jay Johnson

David Benioff, author of 
The 25th Hour, which was made into a movie by Spike Lee, visited our Downer Ave. bookshop on Wednesday, May 21 in support of City of Thieves.  Our good friend (and customer) Tim was there to record it.  Check out the audio on his blog.  

City of Thieves is an impossible to put down story partly based on David's grandfather's real experiences during World War II, but bleak as the story can be it's also funny at times, moving, and honest. Our booksellers have really enjoyed reading 
City of Thieves, and this is what some of them are saying:

City of Thieves"A riveting rush of a journey of finding compassion, humanity and intimacy in the bleak, cold winter days of a dark time in history."- Stacie Williams, Downer Ave.

"Be careful. Once you read the preface to this novel plan on spending the rest of the evening with this book. A Russian immigrant, Lev Beniov, finally tells his American grandson, a writer, his incredible story of a week in January 1942 just prior to the siege of Leningrad (Piter). Only Seventeen-years-old, Lev and a new friend avoid immediate execution when they agree to perform a preposterous task, which leads to traveling behind German lines. 
City of Thieves delivers a difficult and chilling look at the hardships of war, yet friendship, love and even humor are intertwined. The suspense is unrelenting."-Shawn Quinn, Accounting 

"During the siege of Leningrad, 17-year-old Lev Beniov is arrested for looting the corpse of a German soldier.  Rather than being executed, he and an Army deserter are spared by a colonel who sends them on a ridiculous mission: to find and bring back a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake.  A terrific coming of age story, a harrowing tale of war and survival, a funny and endearing story of an unlikely friendship; 
City of Thieves is all of this and more.  What a wonderful book!"-Dave Mallmann, Brookfield


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