After Dachau by Daniel Quinn

after-dachauMy friend Helen recommended Quinn’s novel to me, so I checked it out. When I told her I had finished it today, she said she had never got around to reading it. I should have waited for her to finish the book.

Mallory Hastings has been a “difficult” patient from the moment she opened her eyes in a hospital in Oneonta, New York, following a minor automobile mishap. Terrified, hostile, and unaccountable mute (so that she must be retrained to use her voice), she recognizes neither friends nor family and seems bent on rejecting every effort to help her back to her former condition of normalcy. Than a mysterious message reaches her from afar:

“FIRST: You’re not Mallory Hastings at all.
SECOND: You don’t know how you got where you are.
THIRD: You’re afraid to speak the truth to the people around you.”

Though she’s never heard of the man who sent it, she grabs this lifeline and allows herself to be pulled out of the hospital into a world that is as unfamiliar to her as the woman who claims to be her mother.

The man on the other end of the lifeline is Jason Tull, a man whose story is almost as strange as hers. The scion of a wealthy and powerful family, he could have had any kind of life he wanted. But when he left school, there was only one thing on his mind. Of all things, he had conceived a fascination for the phenomenon known as reincarnation.

I saw a lot of potential with the story of Mary Anne Dorson but Quinn chucks that to the side in favor of a confusing story line. Plus, the middle of this book is not very good. By the end Quinn has pulled it all together and it finishes fairly strong.

However, I felt no connection to the characters, the writing is overly simple and he doesn’t fully develop his ideas.

Book Mentioned:

  • Quinn, Daniel. After Dachau. New York: Context Books, 2006. Originally published 2001. Print. 240 pgs. ISBN: 189395613X. Source: Library.
Book Cover © Context Books. Retrieved: May 2, 2008.