"OCTOBER, EIGHT O'CLOCK" by Norman Manea


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Romanian writer (now Bard College professor) Manea (an essay-collection, On Clowns, Feb. 1992) writes most affectingly in these stories--translated for this volume by six different, mostly slippery hands--of the true central trauma of his own life: deportation to a concentration camp at age five, then survival and repatriation back to a Bukovina laid waste of anything familiar to him. In the best story here, ""Weddings,"" the little boy to whom such freakish luck has happened is trained to deliver a little patriotic speech about the children of the camps--and he becomes a fixture at every public or private celebration. It is a ghastly irony, nicely drawn. But just about everything else either repeats that irony (returning to the worm and its shortcomings) or loses its point in the sloppiness of Manea's over- or under-ambitious metaphors; as fiction goes, these are abstract, indistinct pieces.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0802133711
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Grove Weidenfeld