It gets to you. This book and what it’s about, the men it’s about, they get to you. They got to the author so much he spent his life writing this book. His obsession with Reinhard Heydrich and his assassination spanned decades and somehow, Binet was able to channel it all into this novel, HHhH, and make his obsession mine. I read and read and reveled in the reading; a sense of urgency was lent to my reading by Binet’s urgency to write and write perfectly.
He peppers the story with expositions on how he’d write the book, his doubts and fears and suspicions about non fiction and historical fiction. These asides don’t distract or take away from the retelling of a fascinating WWII assassination of a high ranking Nazi officer, they add to it, lend an urgency and an importance that can only possible through the dedication of a whole life to telling a story. Binet’s intensity blurred the lines between lives and stories, explored the extent to which history can be factual. His nitpicking at one detail made him feel that his hold on the story was even blurrier- reportedly, the car Heydrich drove the day of his death was green, but when he saw it at a museum it was black.
Green or black? One almost felt that if the car was black, Binet feared the whole story might prove false, his life’s work useless. Binet’s inability to know the truth beyond his own senses, that he couldn’t go back in time, seemed to hobble him in an endearingly existential way, strengthening the book by humanizing it. Binet’s insertion of himself into Reinhard Heydrich’s assassination in HHhH removed the cloudiness and almost journalistic version of history, making it accessible in a new way, relatable because a true story was told through a doubting, hopeful, human prism.