Killing the Second Dog

Marek Hasko, Author Cane Hill Press $0 (117p) ISBN 978-0-943433-04-2
A glittering black comedy constitutes the English-language debut of a celebrated Polish writer. Hlasko (1934-1969) perfectly balances dark humor with pathos in this short, swift novel about two Polish exiles in Israel who execute an elaborate scheme: with the subtle help of Robert, his ``manager,'' the narrator, Jacob, woos vacationing American women. The suitor courts not with poetry or flowers, however, but with declarations of his own failure and refusals to enter a relationship (``I won't bring you luck. I'm a loser, you know. Nothing ever changes for men like me''). Robert, a Shakespeare devotee, coaches him: ``Smile like someone who's forced to lend his sports car to his mother-in-law . . . . Do you see your motivation now?'' But for all of the duo's clever plots and witty observations, they are not clowns; rather, they are tormented by history and memories of war, and by their own love of art as redemptive of the squalor they see around them. The weightiness of Hlasko's themes is counterpointed by minor characters who waver between the grotesque and the hilarious, such as the female target's horrid young son, resulting in a read that is equally entertaining and wrenching. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
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