Monday, April 8, 2013


Amity Gaige

Twelve, 2013

Before us is a letter of apology written by Eric Schroeder, to his ex-wife Laura at the time, while he awaits trial. Schroeder is accused of kidnapping his six-year old daughter, Meadow, which he calls Butterscotch. His lawyer asked him to write a long letter with all the details describing what Eric did with his daughter in the days after the kidnapping. Such letter, according to the lawyer, might help to mitigate the punishment, if Laura forgives her ex-husband.

Eric Schroeder is not a crafty criminal, but his whole life was built on lies. At an early age, Eric and his father immigrated from East to West Berlin. Eric had almost forgotten sis mother, and Eric is not sure, whether they left the mother, or she left them. At age 14, Eric moved with his father to Boston, where his father was offered an electrician’s job. Father and son wanted to be naturalized, but remained in the US illegally. Wanting to leave the past behind, at 14 in 1984, Eric invents himself a new identity. In an era when there were no databases and computers, it was easy to become a different person. Eric is applying to a summer camp as Eric Kennedy, a good student and an obedient son of the patriarchal family with money. So, three summers in a row, Eric goes to the camp as Kennedy, and the coincidence of his name with the name of the Kennedy brothers opened many doors to him, though he denied the family relationship with the president. When he’s 16, in the camp, Eric met with Laura, which promptly falls in love with. Eric and Laura quickly got married and honeymooned five days on the beaches of Virginia. After that Eric begins to sell houses, and he does it perfectly. Soon Meadow, a daughter, was born, and Eric is quite able to give his daughter everything a baby needs. But the marriage did not last.

Despite the fact that this book in the form of the message is addressed to Laura, Laura is almost outside of the narrative. Schroder is more than a personal letter, but an open letter, because Eric Schroeder’s thoughts and feelings asks out, it is essential to know everyone about them, not just one person.

The whole book is hardly a love letter: it certainly has the remains of feelings to the one who is the narrator once loved, but, as Eric says, times struggles with love, and time usually wins. But there is no open hatred to the one that robbed Eric of his child.

Schroder is a tragic story with a known right from the beginning ending, but that snatches you and pulles forward. Behind the thriller’s plot hides a non-thriller story, made entirely of different stuff than a thriller. This is such antitriller when there seems to be all related elements, but they do not fit in the usual way. The protagonist is not a bloodthirsty monster, stealing children and cut them into pieces, but a strange man, a psychologist and a good father, lost in himself and in the world. He can cause such empathy and sympathy for the course of reading, that you would never call him a criminal.

Meadow, the girl, is also not a faceless creature that has been stolen as useless broken iron, but a full-blooded little child, thinking and quite charming. Meadow is the companion of her father, not the victim of kidnapping. Angel, another heroine of the book with an unusual view of the world, is the signal from the past, the personification of American roadside motels.

Knowing that everything will end soon, the narrator tries to finally speak out, to find the causes of what happened in the past. The hero of the book examines pauses, and the book is made up of these pauses, innuendo. The narrator seems to be very sincere, but his behavior can be judged that his sincerity has gaps, gaps in his story. We listen to his stories, we want to ask more questions, but this is not a dialogue, this is a monologue, a letter to one side.

Letters of this kind and this force should have been put into the bottle, then to throw them into the sea - for our future generations. Then our followers will appreciate the power of the writer's gift of humanity.

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