All Backs Were Turned by Marek Hłasko

By Marek Hłasko

"Blowtorch of a unique . . . matchless and prescient."—Publishers Weekly

"Spokesman should you have been indignant and beat . . . turbulent, temperamental, and tortured."—The ny Times

"A self-taught author with an uncanny present for narrative and discussion . . . a born insurgent and troublemaker of sizeable charm."—Roman Polanski

In this novel of breathtaking stress and sweltering love, determined neighbors at the fringe of the law—one of them difficult and gutsy, the opposite small and scared—travel to the southern Israeli urban of Eilat to discover paintings. There, Dov Ben Dov, the good-looking local Israeli with a name for inflicting hassle, and Israel, his sidekick, stick with Ben Dov's lately married more youthful brother, Little Dov, who has adequate hassle of his personal. neighborhood toughs are encroaching on Little Dov's company, and he enlists his older brother to force them away. It doesn't aid appealing German widow named Ursula is rooming round the corner. What follows is a narrative of ardour, deception, violence, and betrayal, all conveyed in hardboiled prose akin to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, with a cinematic variety that might make Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando eco-friendly with envy.

Marek Hlasko, referred to as the James Dean of jap Europe, was once exiled from Communist Poland and spent his lifestyles wandering the globe. He died in 1969 of an overdose of alcohol and napping capsules in Wiesbaden, Germany.

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That's the best we can do. P E A S A NT W O M A N : What'll the priest do with him? He needs a mother. There, he's waking up. Don't you think we could keep him, though? P E A S A NT {shouting}: No! P E A S ANT W O M A N : The Caucasian Chalk Circle I 35 I could lay him in the corner by the arm­ chair. All I need is a crib. I can take him into the fields with me. See him laughing? Husband, we have a roof over our heads. We can do it. Not another word out of you! P E A S A N T WO M A N : She carries the C H I L D into the house.

T H E S I N G E R: A very old one. It's called The Chalk Circle and comes from the Chinese. But we'll do it, of course, in a changed version. Comrades, we hope you'll find that old po­ etry can sound well in the shadow of new tractors. It may be a mistake to mix different wines but old and new wisdom mix admirably. Do we get something to eat before the per­ formance? V O I C E S : Of course. Everyone into the Club House! D E L E G AT E : While everyone begins to move, D E L E G AT E turns to G I RL T RA C T O R I S T .

All one hears is: "You neglect yo ur duty! } Go to hell! } S E C O ND D O C T O R : Enter the soldier, for G R U S H A . SIM ON S H A S H AVA . He searches in the crowd Grusha! There you are at last! What are you going to do? Nothing. If worst comes to worst, I 've a brother in the mountains. How about you? s 1 M oN: Forget about me. (Formally again:) Grusha Vashnadze, your wish to know my plans fills me with satisfaction. I 've been ordered to accompany Madam Abashwili as her guard. G R U S H A : But hasn't the Palace Guard mutinied?

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