A Soldier Once

The New York Times


By Günter Grass.
Translated by Michael Henry Heim.

425 pp. Harcourt.

It is after the war when the artist-in-progress observes: "Anyone who has seen not only individual corpses but corpses in piles looks on every new day as a gift." As a P.O.W., when he is shown pictures of Bergen-Belsen, Grass says simply, "I couldn’t believe it." He writes: "First, incredulity, when the concentration camp pictures startled me with their black-and-whiteness; then, speechlessness."

John Irving