BRADOVICH by William Herrick


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Heavy and heavy-handed Kafkaesque fable of modern dread and political paranoia by the serious, socially-minded Herrick (That's Life, 1985; Kill Memory, 1983). Steven Bradovich, a tough, working-class Chicago Croat, has traded busting heads as an NFL defensive end for busting stone as a sculptor. He lives alone, haunted by one marriage that ended in divorce, another in the death by cancer of his beloved Valerian. His children, Laura and Martin, and his grandchildren in California are his source of strength, while his sexual appetite and prowess are a source of comfort. One day, Bradovich is approached by two dark, anonymous ""twins"" who tell him he is under surveillance and who begin to mark his every move. ""The Authority,"" as he calls them, kidnap him once, stab him another time, then apparently arrange a series of bizarre events meant, he thinks, to test him: he is made Witness and judge at a strange punk tribunal; he sees a woman hit and killed by a car; he delivers a baby in a taxi cab; Floriana, a friend and sometime lover, is murdered--by the twins, he thinks. The incidents seem to confirm that the anonymous maligant evil the twins represent to Bradovich holds sway in the world. Eventually, Bradovich stands ""trial"" in a surreal kangaroo court, where he is forced to remember his Jewishness, recalls his own childhood ethnic bigotries, and finally mutters words about life being as it is. Unfortunately, the allegory runs out of gas here; the atmosphere of the trial overshadows its meaning, and the book ends on a benign note of murky, platitudinous affirmation. Compelling and serious, with flashes of brilliance but not with the political punch or moral gravity it really aspires to.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1990
Publisher: New Directions