The Lair (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)
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Norman Manea, Romania's most famous contemporary author, twice has survived the grip of totalitarian regimes. No stranger to exile, he mines its complexities and disorientations in this extraordinarily compelling novel, The Lair. Exile in the motherland and away from it is the shared plight of his protagonists. Nowhere at home, they move through their lives in a continuous, ever-elusive quest for national and individual identity. Manea's characters seek a place and a voice in America, only to discover that the shackles of their native totalitarian and nationalist ideologies are impossible to break.
Manea's themes and narrative approach are intricate: his style fluctuates in correspondence with the instability of his characters' lives, his story is encased within an elaborate network of allusions and paradoxes. Yet in the midst of the novel's overriding disorientation, the author establishes intersections and uncovers the universal. Through the predicaments of his perpetual outsiders, he offers a poignant assessment of the conflicts of the individual in the age of globalization. He writes with unmatched intensity and a unique sensitivity to the human tragicomedy.
patients stay only one night, that’s the rule, time is money, the sick person comes, leaves, the bill remains, the Soviet Boltanski was right. The telephone. “I’m Doctor Bar–El. How do you feel, Professor? Hostal told me that you had 95–to–99 percent blockage. We caught it in time, I felt the urgency. Everything is okay, I will see you in two weeks.” Hostal appeared, like a chef in white with a chef’s bonnet, fresh out of the cookie lab. Small, solid, trustworthy. In his hand, the folder full
foods, the river, Lu’s gloves, the chair, the computer, the bathtub, the wintry forest, the album A Day in the Life of America, the cat on the verandah, the telephone, the blue towel, the ridiculous shoes. He’d lost the energy for revolt, the absurd had become comic. The path had been short, short, silly blind groping through the property called biography. He was ready for the retrospective. He pushed the yellow folder with his hand and pulled the gloves toward himself. He set them down in front
In his first year of teaching, Gapar failed six students in a class of fourteen. After another year, he learned generosity, tolerance, the humor of the multicultural. The marks varied among sufficient, good, very good, with a plus or minus here and there. Here’s the final, rambling, banal, redundant. The final itself might not be insipid, but I am furious. And it’s clear with whom I’m furious. I was determined to obtain a beautiful bouquet of bad marks, a real cry for help. And then you come
“And the Uprising? It exploded the following spring. Slogans and posters everywhere, protesting the administration that encourages sexual harassment. The administration was under siege for three days. Speeches from the balcony of the besieged building. Demonstrations, reporters, negotiations, measures to be taken. And what happened to the erotic trio?” “The female student received substantial compensation, transferred to a different college, and is now married. The boyfriend is now the
accessible. Some things are known; other things remain obscure. Or inaccessible. In secret archives.” “Communist archives?” “Probably. Not only. Maybe C.I.A.” “C.I.A. documents?” The eyes of the thickset Patrick flicker. He pulls the notebook in which he writes nothing closer. “The entrance visa to the U.S., for example. As a member or sympathizer of an extremist political organization, the Old Man should have had a lot of difficulty obtaining a visa. His old political articles had appeared