The story is enough.

The story is enough.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"The Apologizer" by Milan Kundera


Image result for milan kundera

The story can be found here in The New Yorker, May 4, 2015.

First Line: "It was the month of June, the morning sun was emerging from the clouds, and Alain was walking slowly down a Paris street."

Last Line: "Then they walked toward the museum."

This is the first Kundera I have read since college.  When I went back to my beloved literature textbook, there was only one piece in there - "The Hitchiking Game" - and it had been ripped out!  Why?  Was I upset with the story?  It obviously stirred something in me.  The idea that once you play the game you can't go back to where you once were?

I was upset with "The Apologizer".  There is a lot that I did not agree with on a personal level - the personality and purpose of Eve, our agency in coming to this Earth, the "unalienable" rights we have, the purpose of abortion, the purpose of sexuality, the idea of apologizing for living...

I first revolted against the style.  The story begins with a series of thoughts, ideas.  Then it shifts into a seemingly unrelated backstory using a different tense and point of view.  And finally we are led to the real story - everything else having just been introduction and support.  Then when I understood their purpose to the story, I wasn't closed off - I became curious, but with a hearty dose of hesitation.

All the pieces are brought together for a well-crafted short story full of organic symbolism and natural imagery.

But I still struggled with the ideas.  And I know that that is okay - sometimes even necessary.  For a story is to make us ask questions, not to pose solutions.  And the hatred was heavy...  It was so thick and desperate.

A mother who doesn't apologize or hold herself accountable, but blames and assigns feelings and intents to make herself the victim.  A son who just wants to be loved by his mother - so much so, that he is willing to have an enabling, codependent relationship with her ghost: "Isn't it lovely, apologizing to each other?"

Well-written.  I reacted to the ideas with in it in an emotional way.  I left the story, still feeling.  Frustrated with the things we make up to make our world feel safe or at least "known" to us - when in fact, we can never really KNOW someone else and their minds and hearts.  Which is the importance of hope and the fight against despair..

Kundera must have done something right for I am incited.  Ugh. Again.

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