The Fourteenth Day

K. C. Frederick, Author Permanent Press (NY) $25 (198p) ISBN 978-1-57962-065-3
Meditating on love, death and national loyalty, Frederick (Country of Memory) pieces together a delicate, thoughtful allegory of war and displacement. Vaniok, an Eastern European exile in his late 20s, leaves his country (unnamed but roughly modeled on Yugoslavia or Czechoslovakia) after a 13-day revolution that starts out charged with romantic idealism but ends in a blood bath. In exile along with his cousin Ila, Vaniok tries to establish a new life, but the appearance of fellow countryman Jory casts a shadow over his plans for the future. Jory is less willing to break with the old country, and his reveries irritate Vaniok, who wants to forget what he cannot change. He becomes more troubled when Ila falls under Jory's spell and stirs up memories Vaniok believes should be left in peace. Ila's seduction by Jory suggests her larger seduction by the past, its troubling unresolved mysteries, guilts and betrayals. Although technically living in a freer country, Ila enters psychologically into a fugitive state, longing for a desert where the air is so dry that fingers don't leave prints, and flowers bloom after a rare rainfall. A great place for criminals, says Jory. And he knows it is he, and not Ila, who really needs such a place. Eventually the characters go their separate ways, and Vaniok is able to turn a page in his life, confident not so much of a ""new beginning"" as of a future in a spot reminiscent of the beloved Deep Lakes region of his childhood, where he will no longer deny the past. Painted in shades of black and blue, this landscape of exile is by turns a thriller, psychological novel, meditation and romance, difficult to penetrate but well worth the effort. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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