Join us for an afternoon of great fiction presented in partnership with the Plan 99 Reading Series at the Manx Pub.
He had fifty-seven seconds of screen time in the most lavish POW film Hollywood ever produced. He was blond. A Gestapo agent. Sauntering down the aisles of a speeding train, he speaks in terse German to Richard Attenborough, Gordon Jackson, David McCallum. The film is The Great Escape; the actor, though uncredited, is Michael Paryla. He was part Jewish. Shortly after filming he died. In his new book, This Great Escape: The Case of Michael Paryla, Andrew Steinmetz tenderly reconstructs the life of a man seen by millions yet recognized by no one, whose history—from childhood flight from Nazism to suspicious death twenty years later—intersects bitterly, ironically, and often movingly with the plot of Sturges’s great war film. Splicing together documentary materials with correspondence, diary entries, and Steinmetz’s own travel journal, 'This Great Escape' is a poignant and moving testament to the complexity of human experience, a portrait of a family for whom acting was a matter of survival, and proof that our most anonymous, uncredited, and undocumented moments can brush against the zeitgeist of world history.
In his new novel, Helium, Jaspreet Singh crafts an affecting and important story of a largely untouched moment in Indian memory.On November 1st 1984, a day after the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a nineteen-year-old student travels back from a class trip with his mentor and chemistry teacher, Professor Singh. As the group disembark at Delhi station a mob surrounds the professor, throws a tire over him, douses him in gasoline and sets him alight. Years later the student, Raj, is compelled to find his professor's widow, the beautiful Nelly. As the two walk through the misty mountains of Shimla, Nelly comes up against a nation in denial, Raj faces the truth about his father's role in the Sikh massacre and they both find the path leads back to the tra