cover image The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir

The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir

Claude Lanzmann, trans. from the French by Frank Wynne. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $35 (496p) ISBN 978-0-374-23004-3

This remarkable debut of Lanzmann, world-renowned French journalist and film director most celebrated for his epic nine-and-a-half hour Holocaust documentary Shoah, illuminates the depth and breadth of a man's life in the context of enormous historical change and upheaval. His guiding voice weaves through events both comedic and grave, for just as his film is an oral history of the Holocaust, his memoir is an oral recollection of his life, told in great spurts of vocal energy (the text was dictated to assistants), fluid in time and chronology, and vividly detailed. Lanzmann discusses his work as a French resistance fighter during WWII, stealing philosophy books as a student in Paris, his relationship with Sartre and his affair with Simone de Beauvoir, and his sister's suicide. Lanzmann candidly reveals all, "simply to tell the truth." For "Where, if not in this book," he asks, "will it be told?" The incredible determination required to make Shoah speaks to Lanzmann's extraordinary artistic and humane vision: "I only obeyed my own rules, not yielding to the constraints of time or money, or those people who%E2%80%A6 pressed me to finish. But that was how I was." This captivating and inspiring memoir attests to the fact that Lanzmann unyieldingly remains an individual dedicated to telling stories that matter, including his own. (Mar.)