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Unformatted text preview: ve months to turn his statement into a true one. SKETCHES
If the summer of 1941 was walling up around the likes of Rudy and Liesel, it was writing and painting itself
into the life of Max Vandenburg. In his loneliest moments in the basement, the words started piling up around
him. The visions began to pour and fall and occasionally limp from out of his hands.
He had what he called just a small ration of tools:
A painted book.
A handful of pencils.
A mindful of thoughts.
Like a simple puzzle, he put them together.
Originally, Max had intended to write his own story.
The idea was to write about everything that had happened to him—all that had led him to a Himmel Street
basement—but it was not what came out. Max’s exile produced something else entirely. It was a collection of
random thoughts and he chose to embrace them. They felt true. They were more real than the letters he wrote to
his family and to his friend Walter Kugler, knowing very well that he could never send them. The desecrated
pages of Mein Kampf were becoming a series of sketches, page after page, which to him summed up the events
that had swapped his former life for another. Some took minutes. Others hours. He resolved that when the book
was finished, he’d give it to Liesel, when she was old enough, and hopefully, when all this nonsense was over.
From the moment he tested the pencils on the first painted page, he kept the book close at all times. Often, it
was next to him or still in his fingers as he slept.
One afternoon, after his push-ups and sit-ups, he fell asleep against the basement wall. When Liesel came down,
she found the book sitting next to him, slanted against his thigh, and curiosity got the better of her. She leaned
over and picked it up, waiting for him to stir. He didn’t. Max was sitting with his head and shoulder blades
against the wall. She could barely make out the sound of his breath, coasting in and out of him, as she opened
the book and glimpsed a few random pages. . . . Fright...
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This note was uploaded on 01/17/2014 for the course ENG 99 taught by Professor Michal during the Winter '13 term at CSU Sacramento.
- Winter '13