At LA Review of Books, Paul Mandelbaum & Janet Fitch discuss No Stopping Train, War Writing and Les.

Posted: December 1, 2014 by jamieschaffner in Uncategorized

LARB“With care and enthusiasm, he (Les) braids paradox, like gold thread, through each gesture, every line of dialogue. Deceptively modest sentences carry far beyond their word count in thought and feeling.”

“The book offers pleasures in the most surprising moments, like the torture scene, which is a marvel of dramatic irony. In particular Sandor’s exchange with his interrogators over which hand they’re going to destroy. Reading it, I experienced something perversely akin to joy.”

“The anxiety of betrayal, a daily feature of life in the Eastern Bloc, stands out as one of the novel’s main concerns. Another is insecurity about love. His mother, fleeing the revolutionary turmoil of 1956, left him with her elderly parents for five years. Did he ever discuss with you how that formative event influenced his approach to those two central themes?”

“We didn’t sit down and talk about our personal psychology in that American fashion, where you tell the random person on a plane all your personal problems. He wasn’t a complainer and he was rather private. We talked about culture, we talked about books, and ideas, and odd moments of the day, but our psychological wounds weren’t topics of conversation; they were the furnace of our work. The yearning, the acceptance of disappointment, that fatalism, the love of beauty and tenderness and belief in — though not faith in — romance, this comes out in his attitude toward the world, which imbued everything he thought and did, everything he wrote.”

-Continued-

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