By Jennifer Reese
Updated June 22, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Peeling the Onion

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An icon of the German left, novelist Günter Grass shocked the literary world last year when he revealed he’d belonged to Hitler’s SS. In this discursive memoir, he sorts through his tangled, often unreliable memories of that period: passively watching synagogues burn, joining the Hitler Youth, refusing, years later, to believe that photos of concentration camps were real. ”No matter how zealously I rummage through the foliage of my memory, I can find nothing in my favor,” he writes. The painstaking excavation of long-buried and shameful truths in Peeling the Onion does not make for smooth reading, but it’s a fascinating account of a powerful artist struggling with his inglorious past. B+

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Peeling the Onion

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