Plum Brandy: Croation Journeys

Overview

Immigrant writer Novakovich records his journeys to find his roots, some to his native Croatia, some no farther than Cleveland, where he searches for the grave of his grandmother, who refused to return to Croatia with the rest of her family. This moving collection reflects the joys and the difficulties in returning to a homeland left behind.

"Novakovich is a strong, original writer. His subtle prose makes me beam with pleasure, and break into an anxious sweat at the same time. He has mastered the tone of bearing ...

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Overview

Immigrant writer Novakovich records his journeys to find his roots, some to his native Croatia, some no farther than Cleveland, where he searches for the grave of his grandmother, who refused to return to Croatia with the rest of her family. This moving collection reflects the joys and the difficulties in returning to a homeland left behind.

"Novakovich is a strong, original writer. His subtle prose makes me beam with pleasure, and break into an anxious sweat at the same time. He has mastered the tone of bearing witness as a principle of moral literature."—Philip Lopate, The Art of the Personal Essay

Josip Novakovich is the author of Yolk, Apricots from Chernobyl, and Salvation and Other Disasters.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When I first read the synopsis of Novakovich's book, the similarity of our experiences were immediately evident: we both left our native Croatia for the United States during our formative years, we both absorbed the English vocabulary through books and rock'n'roll, and we both dared to choose professions that demand fluency in English. Finally, I thought, here is a book by an established Croat about Croatia and not a book by a weary scholar about (sigh) the plight of the Balkans. But after only a few pages, I was let down. These semi-linked essays, literary by style more than by topic (thus quite difficult to classify), discuss all things Croatian but in a way that props up the author's self-serving agenda to belittle any sign of the country's progress. Novakovich (Salvation and Other Disasters) is a sharp-eyed observer and a confident writer. He also possesses an unsurpassed skill to judge ("The islands are provinces of a provincial country") and judge some more ("It is easy to be thin here"), but always from a safe distance, as if prefacing each statement with "I got away." In the end, one comes to two conclusions: first, our perceptions of any society, including our home, are based on individual experiences. Second, Novakovich should have written a book about how he (not his country) lost his individuality. And, so, while he proudly continues to call himself an American and visit his homeland because its misery is the best cure for his writer's block, I will continue searching for that one book that will rise above the hackneyed stereotypes-the book that I will wholeheartedly recommend as an honest portrayal of this much-misunderstood and much-neglected country. This, alas, is not it.-Mirela Roncevic, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781893996571
  • Publisher: White Pine Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2002
  • Series: Terra Incognita Series Series
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

I Introduction: On the Art of Visiting Your Homeland 11
II Prologue: Tako Je To 15
III Sawdust Memories
Grandmother's Tongue 21
Secret Spaces Of Childhood 36
A Meditation on Wood 42
Deceptive Pleasures of Chess 45
Sawdust Memories 50
Daily Bread 59
IV Croatian Journal
A Homecoming 63
An Anti-Story 76
Guns of August 83
Countries Without Bridges 100
A Place in Between 127
V Writing Home
Hvar 135
Thin and Fat Cats 140
Letter From Croatia 142
A Train Romance 157
On Finding a Grave in Cleveland 166
VI Epilogue: My Son's Views 177
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003

    Delightful book---ignore biased Library Journal review

    I laughed out loud at the wry and tender humour Novakovich brings to these intimate essays. Several of these essays belong alongside David Sedaris' writing about his misadventures in France--insightful, intimate, and heartbreakingly funny observations on our human predicament. Picking up this book is so much like sitting in a Balkan cafe with a long-lost friend telling exquiste funny / sad stories that leave you hanging on every word that later you swear you can smell the espresso and smoke. Reccomended!

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