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Monday, November 21, 2016

The Writers Life 11/21 - Moonlight

Born in Budapest in 1901, Antal Szerb was beaten to death in a concentration camp in 1945. He wrote many books in his short life, and several have been translated into English. His Journey by Moonlight came my way via a donation to the floating book shop. It is the story of a middle class man in his mid-30's who deserts his wife on their honeymoon in Italy, sort of searching, like Proust, for his lost youth. He undertakes an odyssey of travel that takes him to small cities and Rome. His focus is a woman he knew while growing up. He is not in love with her but with what she represents - non-conformity. He longs to shed his bourgeois background. He flounders, escape becoming more futile at each step. All humans are self-absorbed to a degree. The characters in this novel, especially the protagonist, are to the highest degree. Although I disliked all but one, I still found the narrative interesting, though ultimately unsatisfying. It mirrors life in that, try as we may, it is hard to change oneself and the course we are on. Here are nuggets I found particularly interesting, reflective of my own thoughts at certain times of my life: "...he was alone in that profound solitude that a man feels after he has embraced a woman with whom he has nothing in common..." "...And again he had the feeling that the really important things were happening elsewhere, where he was not..." "...Mihaly had never really liked work, but in his bourgeois years had applied himself obsessively because he loved the feeling at night of having done a good day's worth..." "...You yearn for someone, maniacally, mortally, to the verges of hell and death... And then suddenly she appears... and you'd actually rather this person, for whom you've yearned so irrepressibly, were simply not there..." "The elevated gave way to the mundane, as always happened..." Obviously, Journey by Moonlight, published in 1937, is not commercial fiction, but it is eminently readable, translated by Len Nix. who doesn't have a web presence other than listings as a translator. Although Mussolini and the fascists are mentioned casually, Hitler and the Nazis are not. 37 readers at Amazon have rated the novel, forging to a consensus of 4.3 of five. At one time in my life I probably would have gone that high. Now 66, hopefully wiser, I frequently tell myself, whenever I find myself wallowing: "Get over yourself."  

The fierce wind and lack of sunshine put the kibosh on the floating book shop today. I worked on the cover of my next novel. My buddies, Jim in Michigan, who took the photo, and Bags right here in Brooklyn, who shrunk it to a size acceptable to the Create Space cover creator, came through big time. My thanks. This is how it stands right now as I wait for feedback from my literary angel, Victoria Valentine:

Vic's Short Works:
Vic's 5th Novel:'s 4th novel:
Vic's 3rd Novel:
Vic's Short Story on Kindle:
Vic's Short Story Collection:
Vic's 2nd Novel: Kindle:
Vic's 1st Novel:
Read Vic's Stories, free:

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