Article published on May 28, 2015.
How many more undiscovered masterpieces can there yet be to discover? A ‘forgotten classic of universal value’ claim the publishers, citing Stoner and Revolutionary Road as comparators. Originally published in 1971, apparently, Reunion passed me by then but reading it now it certainly packs a punch. I’m not sure I agree it’s the ‘perfect book’ that Rachel Seiffert avers in the Afterword, but it won’t take you long at 71 – well-spaced – pages (once you discount the padding fore and aft). Books are good value but £8 seems a bit steep.
Anyway, it’s 1932 in Stuttgart when 16 year old aristocrat, Konradin, enters middle-class – and Jewish – Hans’s classroom and life. You’re already ahead of me, I suspect, and yes they bond, even though the time, location and their circumstantial differences could hardly be less propitious. Each of their parents are briefly sketched and their attitudes cleverly revealed as the boys’ platonic (???) love unfurls. Throw in insidious pressures on Hans from peers and staff at school and it’s hardly surprising that in less than a year the bubble of their relationship is burst.
Address Unknown by Kressman Taylor seemed to me a more powerful (and even shorter) book, but Reunion is certainly worth reading if it comes your way. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s taken up by reading groups desperate for something short to relieve the many too long books that seem to be around at the moment (Goldfinch, anyone?). A compare and contrast discussion of Address and Reunion might make for an especially interesting discussion – and still only a total of 135 pages!
Guy Pringle, May 2015
Reunion by Fred Uhlman is published in paperback by Vintage on July 16th, 2015