You can never tell where a thought-provoking book is going to come from. Not too many come from 1928 Germany anymore, but Arcade Publishing keeps Leo Perutz’s Little Apple in circulation and that is a good thing.
Little Apple is the story of WWI Austrian POW Georg Vittorin’s Ahab-like pursuit of his white whale…the Chernavyensk prison camp Commanding Officer, Staff Captain Mikhail Mikhailovich Selyukov. Whilst in prison, Vittorin and a few of his comrades swear a pact to even the score with the cruel Selyukov after the war. However, upon their release the POWs all fall back into their pre-war routines in comfortable Vienna. Only Vittorin, who dwells on a specific personal, though somewhat minor, humiliation at Selyukov’s hands, still burns with vengeance.
Abandoning his duty to his family, his presumed fiancé and good career opportunities, he plunges into the heart of the Russian Civil War on a fanatical hunt for his enemy. The undertaking brings him to the brink of starvation, again to prison, spells of criminality, into the arms of a beautiful starlet, to great cities and peasant’s hovels and most often to death’s doorstep, but through it all, he remains insulated to his environs by his fixation on Selyukov. After 2-years of travel throughout Europe, he learns that Selyukov has settled in, of all places, Vienna. It is there that Vittorin encounters the collateral damage of embarking on his selfish quest. It is also there that he faces the arrogant Russian Captain, that to him, over time, has come to personify all of the evil in the world. To be continued…by you reading the book.