Thursday, January 8, 2015

other writers' Slovaks

And, finally, near the end of Journey, Celine arrives at his Slovak beauty, a far cry from the meth-infested psychotic "no-neck Slovak" of Robert Stone's "Helping":

Quite a few fine-looking girls applied for the job. In fact, so many strapping young women of all nationalities flocked to Vigny as soon as our ad appeared that we were hard put to it to choose among them. In the end we picked a Slovak by the name of Sophie whose complexion, energetic yet gentle bearing, and divine good health struck us, I have to admit, as irresistible.

In my imagined, or real, life of a Czech Kudera passing as a Slovak Soska (my father's father's true last name), my first literary sighting of any characters from the old country was late in high school and concerned the Czech girls on the American plains of Willa Cather's My Antonia, a book I remember enjoying very much. And, of course, Stone's "Helping" remains a favorite story nevertheless or because of its Slovak grace and wit.

As is our habit at L.U.S.K., we'll leave it to the next blogger to deconstruct the false binarism between the essential Slovak and constructed Czech in every man, neck or no.

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