Essayist and editor, poet and professor, columnist, novelist, radio commentator, scriptwriter, translator, and all-round man-of-letters Codrescu (Road Scholar) presents his latest collection of essays.
The subject matter ranges from the mood in the author's native Transylvania (not great) to the mood in his adopted home, New Orleans (wonderful), and back to the food in Transylvania (bad). (Perhaps not since the great Aaron Lebedeff forsook the stage has there been such Romanian angst displayed this side of the Atlantic.) And there's more, of course: an obligatory ode to baseball; an offbeat interview with Robert Duvall, in which Duvall gets his due; and an unfocused, but affecting, talk about photography. A man of passionate insight and irony, Codrescu pulls it off with unrestrained style and pungent wit. He considers running for exercise to be a sacrilege: Running is "an extremely serious response to Cossacks chasing you with whips.'' Occasionally, the reader may not know where it's all going, but would be well advised nonetheless to stick with the recondite ambiguities while the author reviews a movie that virtually no one has seen, or deconstructs a literary journal that next to nobody in America has read. The trip is worth it.
Codrescu--never one to write for readers who, as he pegs them, "know what to expect from writers who know what they expect''--has cobbled together another interesting and generally entertaining fabrication, displaying an America occasionally shadowed by his former compatriot, Count Dracula.