Kirkus Indie Review of Out of Silence

Repair across Generations
Matustik, Martin Beck
NEW CRITICAL THEORY (348 pp.) $24.99 paperback, $9.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-0988373211; January 28, 2015


A philosophically charged memoir of a man connecting with a Jewish heritage that he only discovered later in life.

Matustik (Philosophy and Religious Studies/Arizona State Univ.; Radical Evil and the Scarcity of Hope, 2008, etc.) was born in Slovakia in 1957 and orphaned at the age of 14. Later, he signed a document called Charta 77 in defiance of Communist authoritarianism, fled Czechoslovakia, and ultimately landed in the United States as a respected academic. Still, none of this fully prepared him for news he received in 1997 that completely upturned his sense of identity. While living in Chicago, he received two letters from Australian relatives revealing his Jewish origins—a major piece of family genealogy that his mother had determined to keep from him. He’d never discussed the horrors of the Holocaust while growing up, and never knew that his mother’s family was ravaged by Nazi violence. Fifteen years later, after digging more deeply into his untold history, he discovered the reasons behind his mother’s deliberate silence.

Because he was deprived of a full sense of his past, this memoir is an unusual exercise in “postmemory,” as he attempts to excavate a personal history he never experienced. A well-known professor of philosophy and the author of six academic books, Matustik places his personal quest in the context of world history, dissecting the plight of the Jews and the global conflict against tyranny that animated the 20th century. His ruminations are often deeply scholarly and literary, spanning an impressive breadth of topics from Plato to Pink Floyd. It all results in a protean work that resists easy categorization—a complex amalgam of the personal and historical that he calls his “philosophical-political quest.” The prose can be soaringly poetic, but also dense. However, his attempt to rescue himself from “generational blindness” is both intellectually stirring and emotionally poignant. “Shame is the survivor’s unacknowledged trauma,” he writes. “My mother’s trauma has settled me with her generation’s guilt and my own survivor’s guilt. I have been suffering from her disrepair, even as I survive her traumatized silence.”

An important examination of what it means to discover one’s self, and to reclaim one’s sense of belonging.

Kirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744

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a book trailer (10 min.)
-interactive historical, geographical, and and image maps
-media gallery of key personalities cited in the book
-enhanced slide show of the book illustrations
-excerpts from the book
-web links for other study and teaching

Out of Silence – educational resources


Online resources and prepublication excerpts from Out of Silence

Out of Silence – educational resources
Take a Journey in Images: Three Generations across Five Continents


‘The Banality of Evil,’ and the Nazis’ Early Victims –, September 9, 2014

‘The Banality of Evil,’ and the Nazis’ Early Victims –, online September 8 and printed on September 9, 2014,  page A 28

To the Editor:
Re “Book Portrays Genocidal Nazi as Evil, but Not Banal” (Arts pages, Sept. 3):

Hannah Arendt’s notion of “the banality of evil” has been consistently misunderstood as discounting the horrendous nature of Adolf Eichmann’s deeds, and it has become a straw man in arguments for positions with which Ms. Arendt would not disagree.

Her term originated in a letter correspondence with Karl Jaspers, who warned her not to elevate Nazi acts into a hagiography of satanic deeds. Eichmann was not a devil from another planet; he was part of the human race, he was educated, he understood a bit of Kant, and he had agency and intentionality.

This is the nature of the word “banality”: the evil we face in Eichmann and often today is an all-too-human affair. Humans are responsible for their world, not gods and demons.

Chiang Mai, Thailand, Sept. 3, 2014

The writer is a professor of philosophy at Arizona State University on sabbatical in Thailand. He is completing a post-Holocaust intellectual memoir, “Out of Silence: Repair across Generations.”


Out of Silence: Repair across Generations


Copyright © 2015 by Martin Beck Matuštik

ISBN-13: 978-0988373211
ISBN-10: 0988373211
LCCN: 2014909735
BISAC: Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs

6.69″ x 9.61″ (16.993 x 24.409 cm), Black & White on White paper, Illustrations

Out of Silence: Repair across Generations is the story of one man’s journey through three generations and four continents to find—and heal—a past he didn’t know existed.

In 1997, Martin Beck Matuštík made a dramatic discovery at the age of forty: he was the child of a Holocaust survivor. His mother’s shocking secret came from the most unlikely of places—shoeboxes full of her literary and personal archives. These dramatic revelations changed his life forever and set him on a path to discover his true identity. His research unveiled his mother’s remarkable life—and the truth behind her painful decision to reject her Jewish heritage and keep it hidden from her family.

Out of Silence in images The cup of 1927-1937

Akin to Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937–1948, Matuštík’s Out of Silence is an intensely personal Czech-Slovak-American Jewish journey into the past to understand the present and find hope for the future. Dealing with self-transformation, loss, memory, recovery, and the unsettling reality of living with multiple identities, Matuštík’s exhaustive research and selfless prose offer other children of survivors—and the world at large—a remarkable look inside one man’s endeavor to repair the shattered map of his identity.

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