Apr. 21st, 2011


Despite the touted youth of the author, Tea Obreht, this feels like an old-fashioned kind of novel, where surroundings always get carefully described. (Balzac never missed any chance to tell you what a room smells like either.)

The war - the end and the start:
  • Zóra and I were there to sanitize children orphaned by our own soldiers.
  • the stick man holding crudely drawn skis on a mountain resort we had loved that was no longer a part of our country
  • a new nightclub in Brac
  • The place looked leftover, but not defeated.
  • Blue china that was chipped, but lovingly wiped down after probably spending years in a basement, hidden from looters.
  • the kind of celebration that happens when people, without acknowledging it, stand together on the brink of disaster
  • Those first sixteen months of wartime held almost no reality, and this made them incredible, irresistible, because the fact that something terrible was happening elsewhere, and at the same time to us, gave us room to get away with anarchy.
  • Our pig fetuses were being held hostage in a lab somewhere across the ever-shifting border.
  • ... his stash, alphabetized, the lyrics mistranslated and handwritten on notepaper that had been carefully folded and stuffed into the tape boxes.
  • ... established doctors. Apparently, my grandfather was not the only one with ties to the old system, to the provinces, to families there. Doctors above the age of fifty, suspected of having loyalist feelings toward the unified state.

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