Good Neighbors, Bad Times was a memoir released by Mimi Schwartz in 2008 and she had not expected to delve back into her father’s story and the German village she had written about. Ten years later though she would be contacted by a man named Max Sayer, an 89 year old man in South Australia, who shared his story with her. He had grown up Catholic in the same village during the Third Reich. This led Schwartz to have a changed of perspective on the topic of being a neighbor in times of hate. This newly created book weaves excerpts from Sayer’s memoir and hers, which creates a different sort of story.
With the two perspectives of Sayer and Schwartz you are able to see corroborating and contrasting points of view. By putting them together they showcase a deeper understanding of the village of this pivotal time. This work showcases small acts of kindness and encourages readers to examine their own morals. The personal lens that this memoir imparts allows readers to see how the Holocaust impacted second and third generations who find themselves contending with German guilt, the many faces of anti-Semitism, and the role of righteous Christians. There are many other topics that arise in this work and as people in the current climate work to right the historical wrongs and examine their own biases this is a book that will help you to see how changing your perspective can lead you to understand and grow.
Schwartz is again able to craft a narrative in a way that updates the idea of memoirs and how they can be used to educate readers. With her story and Sayer’s working so well together they create a more vivid and complex image of what she had previously presented. This reworking shows such growth and powerful creative strength. You should check out Good Neighbors, Bad Times Revisited as soon as you can. It is available for pre-order now and will be out on 3/1/21.