The journals of those who will shortly take their own lives have the terrible fascination of those airless moments when...

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THE JOURNAL OF ANDREW BIHALY

The journals of those who will shortly take their own lives have the terrible fascination of those airless moments when lightning flashes. Andrew Bihaly, Hungarian-American and child victim of the Nazi occupation, paced off the limits of his own bell jar, acquainting himself again and again with the familiar cartology of childhood traumas and present despair -- ritually tantalizing himself with new hopes and directions, attempting to join the divided self. These diary notations were written in the hip ghetto of Manhattan's Mort Street during 1966-68 and he committed suicide in September of 1968. Bihaly cultivated a scruffy freedom of dress, but his apartment was scoured and filled with treasured objects and people with whom love might be possible. But there was also ""the uptown I, who is searching for answers, full of plans, always wearing a shirt. . . ."" There are momentary comforts -- sleeping with women who in his view were dream women, beautiful, exciting, infinitely loving and soothing; smoking pot and talking to friends whom he takes very seriously; and giving away food -- he spent most of his salary from one of his many odd jobs on hard boiled eggs to distribute in the Village. But stress and anxiety return in waves which eventually are too strong to be ridden out: ""Who am I really inside? . . . Am I pretending? Am I pretending to write? Am I pretending to live? . . . I am lonely. Does it matter?"" Bihaly's death is all the more tragic because he was a writer of some skill, insisting on precise statement of just where he was in time, at exactly which aperture in his prison he chose to station himself. An arresting record of a descent into darkness.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1973

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: T. Y. Crowell

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1973