"A vivid, poignant, unforgettable panorama of Central Europe in the mid-1990's. Michael Blumenthal, a leading American poet and novelist, has written a brilliant series of sketches, lyrical, incisive, empathetic, funny, and wise--at once deeply personal and full of insight--about a fascinating world in transition from a haunted and haunting past to the modern Hustle." -- Sacvan Bercovitch, Harvard University "In these reflections on exile, literature, social phenomena and daily life, Michael Blumenthal uses his exceptional powers of observation to look at Central Europe from an America an perspective, and re-view America from a Hungarian vantage point. Mr.Blumenthal has a poet's eye for the telling detail, an expatriate's appreciation for cultural paradox, and the passion to see beyond both, to the salient heart of human and political dilemmas. This is a wise, witty book that, in the guise of occasional essays, throws an unexpected light on many important issues today." -- Eva Hoffman, Exit into History "It's a delight to listen to the voice of Michael Blumenthal in these essays: He is such an astute observer, honest and wry commentator, and reliable companion. His bi-focaled vision of Hungary and America is indeed eye-opening. A satisfying collection." -- Phillip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay "Michael Blumenthal went to Hungary almost by chance and now, after several years, he seems to have been almost fatally attracted to her. From the forty essays of this book Budapest emerges not as a casual flirt of a foreigner but more like a major and encompassing love affair. The passionate yet tender evocation of a Central Europe that perhaps only the alien poet can see so clearly elevates these pieces from journalism into poetry. The Hungary of the early 1990s is captured here with the self-invented nostalgia of someone who suddenly realizes that he has found his home there, as have so many American authors in great European cities, from Paris to Berlin and London to Rome. Budapest appears in Blumenthal's mirror as beautiful and dirty, challenging and backward, politicized and poetic, a thing of the past and, increasingly, of the present. Published in book format for the first time, Blumenthal's essays present a reemerging, world-class city and its great culture in an unusual, delicate form. A must for all who have enough of cliches on 'Eastern' Europe." -- Tibor Frank, Director, American Studies Center, Etvs Lornd University, Budapest "Some personal remarks - your book is charming, witty, warm and absolutely personal and original. And what is more: it speaks about the truth (local and global). Many thinaks for it. It has made me happy." -- Excerpt from a letter to the Author by The Honorable Arpad Gncz, President of the Republic of Hungary
Michael Blumenthal holds the Darden Distinguished Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Old Dominion University. He is author of Dusty Angel (BOA, 1999), which won the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, as well as four other poetry books, one novel, one memoir, an essay collection, and translations of poems by Peter Kantor. Publications include The New Yorker, and Paris Review.