FUME by Lajos Ruff


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Fume is a little wisp of a novel about Hungarian Communists and the significance of the title escapes us. (""To rage"" does not apply and on the other hand the story is quite concrete and far from fumy.) The author says that this story was told him while spending six months in a death cell in Budapest. In the middle '50's the narrator was a young man in charge of buying or rejecting Western films, a Job he greatly enjoyed for obvious reasons. One days to teach him a lesson) the Party decided to draft him into the army, but he refused to go. So, still to teach him something, they sent him off to a steel town to help increase productions partly by spying. As the months went by, he made no headway with the laborers but did fall in with a tiny circle of close companions. Also, he fell in love with a beautiful metallurgist, Annas and lived with her. After an explosion at the plant, he and his companions were arrested on feeble charges; the others were hung, while he and Anna Were remanded. When Anna is hung, a grave irony is visited upon the narrator...This is apparently Ruff's first book in English. He has mastered the declarative sentence, the one-sentence paragraphs and the single-action (""I lit a cigaret."") paragraph- sentence, all of which we hope he'll give up.

Publisher: Regnery