A Life Twice Given, the captivating debut novel from David Daniel, is a masterwork of speculative fiction inspired by the author’s personal loss. Daniel delivers an immaculately crafted, genuinely human portrait of a future both idyllic and dystopic.
I was born in 1956 to Carlton Ralph Daniel and Beverly Beatrice Gordon. Dad’s family were the only Jews in a small town in southeast Georgia. They owned two clothing shops before the Great Depression, then lost everything and rebuilt. Dad was the only of six siblings to attend college and became an internist. Mom’s family were descendants of a rabbi and other eastern European Jews who settled in Meridian and Jackson, Mississippi and became prosperous merchants. Mom was politically outspoken and served as President of the Mississippi chapter of Hadassah.
During my grammar school and high school years, the civil rights movement and Cold War were prominent. Our rabbi and others in the Jewish community actively supported desegregation, leading to bombing of the synagogue and rabbi’s house by the Ku Klux Klan in 1967. During that period, it was not uncommon for Jewish families to sleep with firearms nearby for their protection.
My favorite columnists as a child were William F. Buckley and Art Buchwald. I was torn between a career in journalism and medicine. I elected the latter due to my interest in psychiatry. I obtained my medical school education and post-graduate training in psychiatry at Vanderbilt Medical School and began a research career in medical school with the study of cerebral blood flow patterns underlying behavior. I've published extensively on the biological basis and treatment of psychotic disorders and have patented my own treatments.
One of the carnival workers---a man with trouble in his past and a motive for murder---is arrested and charged with the crime. The lawyer hired to defend him retains Rasmussen to investigate. The police are convinced they have a clear-cut case, but as Alex probes, he finds a trail as bewildering as a funhouse mirror maze.
An outsider to the close-knit "carnies," and shunned by the police department he once served, Rasmussen faces a client who refuses to talk, gangsters looking to exploit the carnival's troubles, a mob of citizens bent on rough justice, and an elusive killer who seems to anticipate Alex's every move.
When the investigation points to crooked cops, the defending lawyer abandons the case. Wisdom says Rasmussen should do likewise, but staying on has become a matter of honor. As a woman tells him, "We all end up in the graveyard, flying the marble kite." The only question now is: When?
In the old city of Lowell (once the textile capital of America, now a husk of run-down mills), the streets have never been meaner. Beyond the flickering lights and the bright surfaces lies a shadow world where betrayal, deception, and violent death await.
This beautiful, illuminating tale of hope and courage is based on interviews that were conducted with Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov—an unforgettable love story in the midst of atrocity.
“The Tattooist of Auschwitz is an extraordinary document, a story about the extremes of human behavior existing side by side: calculated brutality alongside impulsive and selfless acts of love. I find it hard to imagine anyone who would not be drawn in, confronted and moved. I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone, whether they’d read a hundred Holocaust stories or none.”—Graeme Simsion, internationally-bestselling author of The Rosie Project
In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners.
Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive.
One day in July 1942, Lale, prisoner 32407, comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have the number 34902 tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.
A vivid, harrowing, and ultimately hopeful re-creation of Lale Sokolov's experiences as the man who tattooed the arms of thousands of prisoners with what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is also a testament to the endurance of love and humanity under the darkest possible conditions.
The search for the killer leads to an unusual collaboration. Can a no-frills police officer, grieving for his dead wife, stepped down from homicide detective to vice cop, have anything in common with a young hippie woman who writes for an alternative newspaper and whose lover is determined to turn a demonstration for peace in Vietnam into a violent revolution? Both seek the killer, working from opposite ends of 60's society, and mistrusting each other. Sparrow has his enemies in the SFPD; Amy has doubts about her lover's plans for violent action. Both are aware that cooperation between them and the sharing of their special knowledge is their only option. By the breathtaking climax, where Amy herself becomes the target, it is clear to Sparrow that he must confront the killer and his own demons as well in order to save her, his city -- and himself. Daniel has wonderfully captured the joys and frenzies of the Haight-Ashbury streets in those spirited days. For all of us who missed the Summer of Love, for whatever reason, White Rabbit is a fascinating trip, serial killer and all.
The show is cut short by a fierce electric storm, but Tom has already had enough time to get caught up in both the old days and the present lives of his classmates. Although he is eager to get back to Hollywood and learn the fate of a screenplay he has written, he becomes more and more involved, not only in the lives of his former friends, but in the town itself.
In a parallel narrative, David Daniel gives an insightful account of Tom's adolescence: his dying father, his understanding high school teacher, and his contribution to the family by digging clams on the beach. Ultimately, Tom must choose where he will find his reality: in Hollywood or in the past?
David Daniel's latest book is a gripping read about the paths we take in life and what happens when we look back.