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When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg, a review

<a href=”; style=”float: left; padding-right: 20px”><img alt=”When We Danced on Water: A Novel” border=”0″ src=”; /></a><a href=””>When We Danced on Water: A Novel</a> by <a href=””>Evan Fallenberg</a><br/>
My rating: <a href=”″>5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
When We Danced on Water, by Evan Fallenberg, a Review<br /><br /><br />Dear Hitler:<br /><br />If the word didn’t strangle me, I might thank you for creating a world that brought forth the legendary power and strength of my people. You yourself, through your propaganda film department, documented our ends, but you left it to masters of fiction like Evan Fallenberg to tell our stories of survival. You have created a universe of pain behind you. It’s not our deaths we rage against in the generations that follow; it’s the pain of the last three years, the last five years, the last twelve years, even, in the case of some of us, the last fifty or sixty years of our lives. You called us vermin; we looked our torturers in the eye and spat on them as we endured their blows.<br /><br />Just ask Teo. Ask him, Herr Hitler, what he did the final moment of the War, when he escaped his six year slavery as the personal plaything of an obsessed monster, who rose to be your top Minister of Culture before this slavemaster was pressed into service as an increasingly overmatched lieutenant, Captain, Lieutenant General, and finally, escapee. Ask your Baron Friedrich von Sadistschafft how many boys he demolished on the way to his enslavement of potentially the best male dancer of his era, possibly even a rival to Nijinsky. Go to Israel, and ask Teo’s friend of his twilight, Vivi, whose life was dissolute, fading, even, at the age of forty-two, who met your survivor of Reichskutltursschafft and, fired full of passion, the holy twin of obsession, created legendary installations in defiance of everything you were and everything you twisted your people into becoming. Ask their child, conceived on the very last night of Teo’s life, the eternal tribute to the fact that you were defeated, whereas we were merely destroyed. From every destruction there are survivors, memories. From your defeat, a shame that no one nation could bear, not even one Germany.<br /><br />We, the readers of Evan Fallenberg’s masterful tale, will feel the passion that Fallenberg nurtures, from the Teo’s first studio, the parks and balustrades of Warsaw, to the school in Copenhagen where he would emerge, ready to take over the Reich’s balletic imagination, to Teo’s capture, enslavement, and violation at the hand of the evil of this culture officer’s obsession. We will walk the streets of your Berlin with Vivi, the Israeli whose life, and passion, had fallen out of focus at the hand of another German, who could not shoulder your burden alone. We will feel the would that seared your city’s heart for thirty years. We will follow Vivi back to the streets of Tel Aviv where, through her association and eventual romance with Teo, discovered a wellspring of passion inside herself and went from coffee-shop waitress and dilettante to the artist to whom presidents paid obeisance. Finally, I call on your rotten bones to twist and cry out like the Biblical victims of Dathan and Abiram, wailing your apologies to the grave while Teo’s and Vivi’s son Nathaniel, “Given by G!d,” dances in some decades on your metaphoric and real grave.<br /><br />We, the survivors, their grandchildren, their neighbors and the descendants of their neighbors, read the words masterfully imagined by Mr. Fallenberg, and we give praise for passion, for it is passion that creates true art.<br /><br />You can watch Evan Fallenberg read from his novel When We Danced on Water at the PEN Written on Water festival at <br /><br /><a></a><br />
<a href=””>View all my reviews</a>

About Ronald FIschman

I am a public school teacher who had a prior career as a cantor, opera singer, and composer. My greatest notoriety comes from my settings of Dylan Thomas's "Vision and Prayer" and Percy Byssshe Shelley's "Ozymandias" for singers and large instrumental ensemble. My first poetry collection, "Generations," honors the roles of son, husband, and father, and is available at

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