The Visible World Audio CD – Audiobook, Jul 1 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Slouka's urgent second novel (following God's Fool) comes in three parts. The first relates the nameless narrator's growing up in postwar New York and Pennsylvania as the child of college journalism instructor Antonín and Ivana Sedlák, Czech émigrés whose marriage is slowly disintegrating. The reason, of which the young narrator is aware from an early age, is that Ivana loves another man, killed in Czechoslovakia during WWII. The despondent Ivana watches soap operas and chain-smokes until, at age 64 in 1984, she walks in front of the Allentown bus. The slimmer middle section chronicles the narrator quitting his job two years later, moving to Prague and poking into his parents' wartime past there. The final, longest section crackles with the novel's main tale. Having pieced together enough of his parents' history, the narrator "imagines" the rest. Crucially, it involves the actual assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Hitler's ruthless local military governor, on May 27, 1942. As part of a daring plan, Czech patriot assassins are parachuted in by the RAF; the injured Heydrich later dies of blood poisoning. The Nazi bloodbath that follows includes the infamous liquidation of the village of Lidice. The suspense is well paced, and the action scenes are vividly recounted. Slouka's novel has a poignant verve. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
An unnamed American man from Queens, the son of Czech parents who emigrated after World War II, struggles to understand his mother's tragic past in this almost unbearably poignant work. In its first part, a series of reminiscences from his early years, he attempts to piece together her story and that of Eastern Europe's wartime generation--a tale involving secret executions, SS leader Reinhard Heydrich's assassination, and a family friend's hidden history as a Nazi interpreter. As he travels through Czechoslovakia as an adult, he meets villagers who reveal startlingly insightful truths about how people conceal their pasts in order to survive. Ultimately finding no concrete answers, he decides to re-create his mother's story in fiction, a section that imagines her love affair with a member of the Resistance during 1942. Undeniably romantic, this novel-within-a-novel responds to the desperate longing for truth so powerfully explored earlier, making plain our overriding need to make sense of the incomprehensible. This is a penetrating, beautifully composed novel from a writer with a tangible sense of place and period. Sarah Johnson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I was not disappointed. As a fan of Milan Kundera, I resist reading books compared to his, but this time it is spot-on. Slouka's protagonist weaves an imagined love story between his mother and a WWII resistance fighter in with the story of his own youth spent with Czech expatriates and his trips to Prague searching for answers to the mystery of his mother's life. The result is a wonderful combination of magical realism and stunning, clear prose that had me hanging on every word. I think Mark Slouka is a marvelous writer, and I hope many more find this lovely novel. Here's the NPR link-
It was hard getting into it at first, but once you get past the first part, you're hooked.
The books is divided into three parts: the first is where the narrator talks about his childhood in the States. The second part is the narrator's journey to Parague to discover anything he can about his parents' past. The third and most moving part is his view on what really happened in his parents' youth, his attempt to fill the gaps of his family history.
WWII as the backdrop for the last chunk of this book, you feel like you are there with them. The style is inviting and when you finish the book you'll almost believe that it did happen.
This is one of the few books I could truly enjoy reading twice!