Monday, June 8, 2015

Book Review: Embers by Sándor Márai

From Hungarian author Sándor Márai comes a meditation on many topics: friendship, betrayal and revenge; old age, with its solitude; music and hunting; and an excursus on love and fidelity.

Two men, friends since their youth, meet again after 42 years of their own self-imposed exiles from each other and from the world. Their last meeting was with a woman, now dead.  So what happened during the last meeting that proved so detrimental it shattered all the lives of those three? why did it happen? and why after 42 years must these two friends, a General and an "Artist", meet again?

These questions were enough to keep me glued with the novel but I was exasperated since (1) while the event should be about two friends who are meeting again for one last talk, we instead get to hear almost all the supposed "talk/dialogue" from only one of them. (2) This is magnified by the fact that no other character is explored save from those mentioned by the one character who does all the talking and reminiscing-often with a matter of-factly tone.

I was not approaching the story properly.

Often, however, novels like these need be read like poems. So instead of looking at poor word choice like how in a segment, the character had to referred to time and again as "the son of the officer of the guards said.. the son of the officer of the guards, the officer of the guards", or why "Embers" in the first place? all of which becomes becomes clearer towards the end. Instead of expecting characters, , scenes, events, descriptions, and resolutions of conflicts, I was now looking at expressions, insights, and be contended with the few but cryptic scenes-especially the one at the end.

Witty, unexpected observations on the human drama, and enough questions on truth makes this 240 page novel interesting enough to finish in almost a day

Fast and Fun Facts:
Got it from: Bookends Baguio
paraphrased quote and unwarranted reflection:
Only men, never women, know true friendship. Which brings to mind the fact of fickle reasons women fight each other, and how long those grudges last. 

No comments:

Post a Comment