cover image Like the Appearance of Horses

Like the Appearance of Horses

Andrew Krivak. Bellevue Literary, $28.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-954276-13-0

Krivak revisits the Vinich family, whose travails he has portrayed in two earlier novels including The Signal Flame, for a bleak and stirring work that revolves around a pair of soldiers fighting separate wars. The first is Becks Konar, a young Hungarian and Roma man who leaves Hungary for the United States in 1933 and arrives at Jozef Vinich’s 2,000-acre homestead in Dardan, Pa., Jozef having saved his life as an orphaned infant during WWI. After marrying Jozef’s daughter, Becks returns to Europe to fight for his adopted country in WWII. His thrilling journey to join a resistance movement after being separated from his unit in the Ardennes is the novel’s highlight. The second soldier is Sam Konar, Becks’s younger son, who enlists in the Marines in the 1960s and goes missing in action in Vietnam. Two years later, he returns home broken, addicted to heroin, and pained to discover his older brother is engaged to his former girlfriend. While Krivak handles Sam’s tale with skill, his section feels less mythic and haunting than Becks’s epic journey (as Jozef tells Becks, “no land, no country, no nation will let us wander within its borders without exacting its price”). Krivak impresses with this layered story of deferred homecomings and the elusive nature of peace. (May)