The Visible World is an evocative, powerfully romantic novel about a son's attempt to understand his mother's past, a search that leads him to a tragic love affair and the heroic story of the assassination of a high-ranking Nazi by the Czech resistance. The narrator of The Visible World, the American-born son of Czech immigrants living in New York, grows up in an atmosphere haunted by fragments of a past he cannot understand. At the heart of that past is his mother, Ivana, a spontaneous, passionate woman drifting ever closer to despair. As an adult, the narrator travels to Prague, hoping to learn about a love affair between his then young mother and a member of the resistance named Tomas, an affair whose untimely end, he senses, lay behind Ivana's unhappiness. Ultimately unable to complete his knowledge of the past, he imagines the two lovers as participants in one of the more dramatic (and true) moments of the war, and through the deeply romantic story he tells, creates not only the ending of their story but the beginning of his own.
The Visible Worldis a literary page-turner and an immensely moving novel about the vagaries of love and our need to make sense of life through the telling of stories.
One night when I was young my mother walked out of the country bungalow
we were staying in in the Poconos. I woke to hear my father pulling on his
pants in the dark. It was very late, and the windows were open. The night was
everywhere. Where was he going? I asked. Go back to sleep, he said.
Mommy had gone for a walk. He would be right back, he said.
But I started to cry because Mommy had never gone for a walk in the forest at night before and I had never woken to find my father pulling on his pants in the dark. I did not know this place, and the big windows of moonlight on the floor frightened me. In the end he told me to be brave and that he would be back before I knew it and pulled on his shoes and went searching for his wife. And found her, eventually, sitting against a tree or by the side of a pond in her tight-around-the-calf slacks and frayed tennis shoes, fifteen years too late.
My mother knew a man during the war. Theirs was a love...
Slouka creates a tangible whole that leaves the reader well satisfied and, by extrapolation, forms a foundation of "truth" about the narrator's parents on which he can build the rest of his life.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (769 words).
A Short History of
The lands now known as The Czech Republic and Slovakia were ruled by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire for about 300 years until the end of World War I and the collapse of the empire. In 1918, a union was proclaimed between the Czech lands and Slovakia to form the Czechoslovakian state, an idea that had been advocated by Czech and Slovak political leaders and intellectuals for sometime. However, although the majority of Czechs and Slovaks shared a similar language they held ...
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