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Sunday, July 11, 2010

"In the Hold"

by Vladimir Arsenijevic, 1996, 128p, rating=2.5

Mr. Arsenijevic writes well.  A literary style that is poetic and so you know how I do with poetry ... I get lost!  It's sad but my brain isn't wired to decipher it just yet.  I should take a poetry class... hmmmm.

Well, what I did get I liked.  The main character, unnamed, narrated his life story.  His awakening as it came was honest.  He described his feelings such as anxiety to avoid getting drafted, his awe and insecurities being married to a bold woman, the joy of the pending arrival of his first child --a son, the perplexity of his lapse of judgment, and newly found and strengthened love for his dad and a veteran friend.  Also, I did get the feel of a sense of harshness that loomed in the air as would be during war years.  A few funny moments but also disturbing ones too.  Anyway, if you can get a hold of this book, go ahead and read it.  It's a quick read and then perhaps you can explain the foggy parts to me!  :D  ... Duh!  I own a copy of this book, so if you're local come over and borrow it.

Book's synopsis:
It is the autumn of 1991, the beginning of war in the former Yugoslavia.  As a mass exodus empties Belgrade of those trying to evade the conflict just beyond the border, a young couple await the birth of their first child.  This is the story of their family and those close to it--people desperately trying to carry on with their modern lives in a world increasingly ruled by primitive passions.  The expectant father--ironic and bemused, anxiously enervated but determined to keep peace at home--is scarcely a fair match for his fiery wife, Angela, particularly in her third trimester.  Once an enterprising black-market capitalist, she has put business aside for motherhood, "to become what she had in fact always wanted to be--a housewife."  But when her younger brother, a maddeningly enlightened though awkward Hare Krishna, unexpectedly answers the draft call--succumbing to the seductions of an even more incomprehensible dogma--the delicate fabric of their comforting routine begins to unravel.  Against the "Tehranesque panoramas...of the deceived capital, " everyday life soon takes the turbulent form of a soap opera--but one without the reassuring promise of conventional resolutions.  Arsenijevic's novel is a brutal story, by turns nightmarish and comical.  Like Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, it give us a generation caught in circumstances not of their making, but refusing nevertheless to share the visions of their country's rulers.  It is a haunting tale of family life in surreal disarray.  A singular literary debut.

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