From EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS by Andrew Ervin
The cab ride from the airport was more exhausting than the transoceanic flight. Budapest had grown unrecognizable, and filthy. Everything had changed. Only the weather was familiar now — the dry cold and the wind that rushed along the river, sustained by clogged and muddy streets. Harkályi felt grateful for the generic familiarity of the hotel room, the bland tones of the wallpaper. With the curtains drawn, he remained placeless a while longer, a measure closer to anonymity, yet something was different this time. They called him Hungarian, but that was a designation he never felt. Perhaps he should not have come.
The above excerpt is the beginning of 14 BAGATELLES, a novella collected in EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS (Coffee House Press, 2010).
Andrew Ervin’s novel, BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL’S HOUSE, is expected from Soho Press in 2015.
WHY READ IT? Andrew Ervin shows some courage in his subject matter and some of the parallels he draws between his protagonist’s past and our present. But if Andrew Ervin were only courageous in his willingness to make his observations and questions public, I could not recommend the story. I can recommend the story because EXTRAORDINARY RENDITIONS shows Ervin’s great talent at acknowledging the sad spectacle of our long past and more recent mistakes, and then lacing that story with enough beauty and music that a reader can feel sorrow without being overwhelmed by it.