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Nobody's Son: A Memoir
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W. W. Norton & Company 2016
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Description

"There comes a time in your life when the past decides to run you down," Mark Slouka writes in this heartbreaking and soul-searching memoir about one man's attempt to reckon with the past.


Born in Czechoslovakia, Mark Slouka's parents survived the Nazis only to have to escape the Communist purges after the war. Smuggled out of their own country, the newlyweds joined a tide of refugees moving from Innsbruck to Sydney to New York, dragging with them a history of blood and betrayal that their son would be born into.


From World War I to the present, Slouka pieces together a remarkable story of refugees and war, displacement and denial—admitting into evidence memories, dreams, stories, the lies we inherit, and the lies we tell—in an attempt to reach his mother, the enigmatic figure at the center of the labyrinth. Her story, the revelation of her life-long burden and the forty-year love affair that might have saved her, shows the way out of the maze.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
10/18/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780393292312
ASIN:
B01BZ1V68W
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Mark Slouka. (2016). Nobody's Son: A Memoir. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Mark Slouka. 2016. Nobody's Son: A Memoir. W. W. Norton & Company.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Mark Slouka, Nobody's Son: A Memoir. W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Mark Slouka. Nobody's Son: A Memoir. W. W. Norton & Company, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 15:59:21
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Mark Slouka's most recent books are the story collection All That Is Left Is All That Matters, the memoir Nobody's Son, and the award-winning novel Brewster. His work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Essays, and the PEN / O. Henry Prize Stories. He lives in Prague.
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shortDescription

"There comes a time in your life when the past decides to run you down," Mark Slouka writes in this heartbreaking and soul-searching memoir about one man's attempt to reckon with the past.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Mark Slouka's parents survived the Nazis only to have to escape the Communist purges after the war. Smuggled out of their own country, the newlyweds joined a tide of refugees moving from Innsbruck to Sydney to New York, dragging with them a history of blood and betrayal that their son would be born into.

From World War I to the present, Slouka pieces together a remarkable story of refugees and war, displacement and denial—admitting into evidence memories, dreams, stories, the lies we inherit, and the lies we tell—in an attempt to reach his mother, the enigmatic figure at the center of the labyrinth. Her story, the revelation of her life-long burden and the forty-year love affair that might have saved her, shows the way out of the maze.

isOwnedByCollections
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title
Nobody's Son
fullDescription

"There comes a time in your life when the past decides to run you down," Mark Slouka writes in this heartbreaking and soul-searching memoir about one man's attempt to reckon with the past.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Mark Slouka's parents survived the Nazis only to have to escape the Communist purges after the war. Smuggled out of their own country, the newlyweds joined a tide of refugees moving from Innsbruck to Sydney to New York, dragging with them a history of blood and betrayal that their son would be born into.

From World War I to the present, Slouka pieces together a remarkable story of refugees and war, displacement and denial—admitting into evidence memories, dreams, stories, the lies we inherit, and the lies we tell—in an attempt to reach his mother, the enigmatic figure at the center of the labyrinth. Her story, the revelation of her life-long burden and the forty-year love affair that might have saved her, shows the way out of the maze.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Kathryn Harrison, author of The Kiss: A Memoir and Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured
      • content: 'Pinned like Ahab to his whale,' Mark Slouka sets out to confront his own leviathan—a past of violent upheaval and existential terror, a childhood eclipsed by his mother's madness. In his quiver: memories both sacred and flawed; hope, the thing without a GPS; resolve, the kind born of desperation; and love. The last will hit the mark. A brilliant memoir.
      • premium: False
      • source: David Gates, author of A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me
      • content: In Nobody's Son, Mark Slouka softens neither the events he's recalling nor his own struggle, sentence by sentence, to register them as truly as he can. Paradoxically, they've yielded a thing of beauty.
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Post
      • content: A beautifully written memoir which is as much about the wiles of memory as it is about Slouka's family history...With love and compassion, Slouka bravely excavates the pain and straightens the pictures on the walls of his chamber of memories.
      • premium: False
      • source: Patricia Hampl, author of A Romantic Education
      • content: A masterwork...astonishingly fierce yet powerfully lyric. The story moves beyond the search for a self into the tangled narratives of both private memory and the ravaged history of twentieth-century central Europe.
      • premium: False
      • source: Brian Hall, author of Fall of Frost
      • content: The profoundest stories are about family, and the best memoirs are about memory; both human ties and human memory are deceptive, mysterious, recursive, contradictory. Slouka's previous writing has shown that he has both a hard skeptical brain and a huge questing heart. Nobody's Son is the book of his life, in both senses: he sings it like Bach throwing his baton, a mature master engaged, enamored, enraged.
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: [Slouka's] thoughtful and erudite reflections deepen the narrative and infuse it with compassion...With the rich prose of a novel, [Nobody's Son] is a story about escapes: Slouka's parents escaping from Communist brutality, his father escaping from the oppression of marriage, his mother escaping from the conflict within and the author, seeking refuge the only way he knows how, escaping through words.
      • premium: False
      • source: Lynne Sharon Schwartz
      • content: Mark Slouka's superb memoir should become a classic...A heart-wrenching tale of the demise of a family, told with the hard-won honesty and insight of a genuine artist.
      • premium: False
      • source: Phillip Lopate, author of Portrait Inside My Head
      • content: Somber, funny, ruthless, tender, this singular memoir reverberates with obstinate, refreshing candor. Mark Slouka demonstrates powerfully the ways that memory is a function of imagination, like it or not.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 29, 2016
        Madness, war, persecution, and suburban anomie warp a family in this sometimes grim, sometimes luminous memoir. Novelist Slouka (Brewster) is the son of Czechs who survived wartime German occupation, then fled the Communist regime to settle in the U.S., where they languished in the cultural wasteland of their Bethlehem, Pa., subdivision. Slouka’s parents’ epically bad marriage was dominated by the deepening mental illness of his mother, Olga, which featured paranoid delusions, shrieking rages over trivialities, and worse. Slouka foregrounds his claustrophobic relationship with Olga as it shifted from sunny warmth to hurricane-strength hatred and then, after decades, to a distance that gives insight into her polarities. (He suggests that she was molested by her father in her youth.) Slouka’s reminiscences of his childhood are vivid and novelistic, but sometimes they become bogged down in ruminations on the fallibility of memory and middle-class American family dysfunctions he witnessed. The book shines when he imagines his parents’ more compelling travails in the 1940s, supplemented by his own travel to Czechoslovakia in the 1970s, where he discovered a hidden romance that’s the key to Olga’s character. In the end, he manages to recover deep personal meaning from tragic history. Photos.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        A distinguished novelist and short story writer's memoir about uncovering a painful family past he had "hidden...in fiction, story after story, book after book."Growing up, Slouka (Brewster, 2013, etc.) and his mother, Olinka, were "soulmates, a church of two." She, along with the author's father, Zdenek, had witnessed the Nazi occupation of their home country of Czechoslovakia. Despite their outward appearance as successful immigrants, however, it became clear-- especially after Olinka divorced Zdenek and returned to live in Moravia--that a soul-destroying madness consumed her. Slouka examines his complicated relationship to his mother and re-creates his parents' lives in an effort to come to terms with his own grief and guilt. In 1945, Olinka and Zdenek married. But that union, born of desperation rather than love, took place in the shadow of the abortion Olinka had of a child conceived in incest with her Nazi-sympathizer father. By 1948, Zdenek was forced to flee the country and live in exile. Just before the pair left, Olinka fell deeply in love for the first and last time in her life with F., a man to whom she continued to write even after she left Czechoslovakia for Australia with Zdenek. The correspondence ended before the Sloukas came to the United States, but a chance encounter on a trip back to Czechoslovakia nearly 30 years later brought Olinka and F. together again as lovers, until his untimely death several years later. Broken and bitter, Olinka--who could not forgive her soul-mate son for growing up and loving other women--divorced Zdenek and left the U.S. for home. Dependent on pills that accelerated the development of Alzheimer's disease, she died "raging at the world." Slouka's raw candor, narrative skill, and meticulous attention to the traps of his own memory make for powerful reading. However, it is his ability to confront the darkness in his past and acknowledge it as a shaping life force that makes this book especially engrossing. A moving and intense memoir from a gifted author. COPYRIGHT(1) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 1, 2016
        An award-winning author of both fiction and essays (e.g., "Brewster"), Slouka tells a personal story with larger ramifications. His Czech-born parents managed to survive the Nazi domination of their homeland, but when communism brought its own brand of oppression, they followed the refugee path from Innsbruck to Sydney to New York.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

subtitle
A Memoir
popularity
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publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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