It was my niece’s Batmitvah and I wanted to avoid copping out and buying something in a shop, so I dedicated myself to an entirely uncharacteristic goal.
I would write her a book.
The result was ‘The Short 6ft Tall Man’.
The Short 6ft Tall Man is a story about my father around the same age as my niece was then, the story of my father as a teenager, living in Nazi Austria in the mid to late 1930s. It was an age so profoundly different to today that it has informed me in many ways about the passing of time and about the idea of coming of age which is what a Batmitvah intends to mark.
I grew up hearing about my father’s teenage years over the breakfast table, spreading margarine on toast. He would recount the horrors and adventures, the reprehensible actions and the mundane games all in a gulp. The impressions define how I feel about my dad and in many ways how I feel about life.
Here are some things people have said about The Short 6ft Tall Man on Amazon
With a deceptively light conversational style the author brings the child’s world to life with all his boyish games and enthusiasms. Then the nightmare begins. The story is so immediate and involving that I was shocked and appalled and , in the end, profoundly moved. The child’s ambivalence – his pain and longing to be at one with his peers – rings with truth. This is an unusual and special book that carries a far deeper content than its’ tone initially suggests. Well worth reading.
A wonderfully evocative story describing how the games of one boy’s childhood gradually assume a sinister and tragic shadow as the Nazis occupy Austria and spread fear and suspicion amongst the population, turning them against their Jewish friends and neighbours. The writer takes a fresh approach to this not unfamiliar story by encouraging his elderly father to reflect and remember how it really felt, as a child, to have all that was familiar taken away. There is a positive note at the start and end of the story as the adolescent boy (the writer’s father) has his first taste of romance in a life affirming moment of hope. The illustrations are poignant and beautifully pitched to evoke details of the story.
You can buy a softback version of The Short 6ft Tall Man here. For hard back versions and readings please get in touch through the contact page.