Piles of Castoffs
For Signature, Rita Jacobs reflects on the importance and the role of Anne Frank’s diary, 72 years after it was written. She puts two recent works, Nathan Englander’s short story, “What We Talk About When We Talk about Anne Frank,” and Shalom Auslander’s novel, Hope: A Tragedy: A Novel, into context with Frank’s diary:
In a way, Auslander does the same thing by trashing the Anne Frank young girl image. Here, as in Roth’s novel, Anne Frank is alive but certainly not a beautiful object of lust. She is, rather, an old woman hiding in the wittily named Solomon Kugel’s attic in upstate New York. She is an annoying nuisance to her unwilling host. And, in a sense, this is where the Holocaust is relegated for the third generation—somewhere in the attic where we’ve stashed things that are not of everyday use but where we might unearth some meaning if we just go looking through piles of castoffs.