e-book I Dream of Magda

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I Dream of Magda

His boss takes advantage of his acquiescence, placing the reader in the uncomfortable place of watching injustice at a distance, unable to intervene. His older brother Matthew is recovering after a car accident that killed his girlfriend. So, in all, not a lot to laugh about here. The book is written in the first person present tense, which I always find a rather oppressive and intrusive style, but I think that it works well here. There are no chapter divisions, but the book is written in three parts.

It starts with a short prologue. The narrative is broken up by dream sequences, without punctuation, unevenly spaced and told in disconnected snatches, as dreams often are. I feel a bit embarrassed to confess this, but I misread the dream sequences until almost the closing pages of the book, attributing them to the wrong brother.

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When I looked back, I found that it is clearly identified who is dreaming in the opening pages, but I missed it- or perhaps the characters were not well enough established at that point? It was a rather strange experience being jolted to realize that the dream sequences were not what I thought they were, so late in the book, and considering what change that made to the way I had read and interpreted them. So, for me, I was led into an unexpected detour into a consideration of my own reception of the book as a reader. I recall being advised strongly against putting a copy of my thesis hah!

I see that at my university, it is now compulsory to make a digital copy available, accessible in full through Trove. Creative processes, in whatever genre, are by their own nature constantly evolving and redefining their own boundaries. I also made note of external inspirations and practical considerations I encountered along the way. This resulting exegesis is an attempt to explore the genesis and creative evolution of my novel. In the end, it may not be any more helpful in addressing a general question on how to write a book, but it should go a long way to explaining how the initial idea for this book, in particular, took off and eventually flew at 70, words.

Very interesting reading- especially in light of my own response to the book.

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Read because: I had heard about it- and was puzzled by the title. Pingback: Is there a book in this thesis? The Resident Judge of Port Phillip.


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You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. This is not a mystery story. The fact that I was trying to save her rather than destroy her changes nothing. It is a novel of domesticity but also an indirect political history of Hungary after the Stalinist era. Magda, a young writer whose work has not been published under Communist rule, is emerging as an important figure, much in demand by media, publishers, and even foreign literary circles.

She feels unable to manage the household after she and her husband move to a new, larger apartment. Averse to anything political, in the war she sheltered both Jews and Germans from their pursuers. She has an almost mystical relationship with animals, and commands the love and loyalty of Viola, the stray dog Magda and her husband have adopted.

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From time to time she tells Magda about her troubled past, and Magda learns to tolerate her erratic, at times unfathomable behavior. And through it all Emerence keeps the household running smoothly. In her own way, she loves Magda. This strange relationship continues for many years. Emerence has many people in her life— neighborhood residents and shopkeepers; the Lieutenant Colonel, who sorts out her problems with the authorities; and her nephew, whom she helps financially.

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But Magda comes to be seen as the person closest to Emerence. The situation begins to unravel as Magda is awarded a prestigious prize and prepares to leave for Athens to represent Hungary at an international conference. Emerence develops the flu and a bad cough.


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She refuses to see a doctor. The neighbors leave food on the porch but it is not touched. When a foul stench begins to emerge from the apartment, Emerence still refuses entry but tells Magda that one of the cats has died.

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Magda comes up with a plan. She will promise to bury the cat. But Magda is scheduled to be at a TV studio for an interview, so she is at the scene only to get Emerence to open the door and put the cat in a box. The doctor and handyman do the rest. When she returns she finds that Emerence has been taken to the hospital, and that her apartment is closed because the filth was so pervasive that the doctor ordered it to be decontaminated.