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Distributed for Seagull Books

Postcard from London

and Other Stories

Translated by John Batk

Distributed for Seagull Books

Postcard from London

and Other Stories

Translated by John Batk
The first comprehensive volume in English from one of Hungary’s most popular twentieth-century writers. 

Iván Mándy (1918–1995) has been called “the prose poet of Budapest,” and this volume of short stories presents the first comprehensive collection of his work in English. His early oeuvre created an urban mythology full of picaresque characters inhabiting the seedier neighborhoods of the city: its flea-market stalls, second-run cinemas, and old-fashioned coffeehouses. The stories from the later decades of Mándy’s life, often bordering on the absurd, introduce many autobiographical elements spun around the author’s alter-ego, János Zsámboky, whose hapless adventures on a rare trip abroad constitute this group of stories, including “Postcard from London.” Mándy’s unique style at times borrows techniques from films and radio plays, his quirky cuts creating a flicker of images seen in the mind’s eye. Memory and perception, time and place spin in narrative legerdemain that invites and rewards the reader’s active participation.

356 pages | 6 x 9

The Hungarian List

Fiction


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Table of Contents

Abandoned
Afternoon Sleeper
Autobiography
Cabana Mosquitoes
A Character out of Chekhov
A Corner of the Table
The Day of Glory
A Dream
Fabulya’s Wives
Furniture at Night
God
A Grand Old Cafe
In a Drafty Staircase
In Place of a Foreword
Marlene Dietrich
Message
The Morning of the Journey
The Night Before the Journey
On a Streetcar
The Original
Ottlik
Pebble
Postcard from London
Snotty Ghost
The Sweet Smell of Success
A Vestibule
The Veteran
A Visit with Father
A Visit with Mother
A Wedding
What Was Left
Women’s Locker Room
Words About an Uncle

Excerpt

It had been settled once and for all one Sunday afternoon. After seeing The King of Kings. He had been lingering outside the Bodograf Theater, gazing at the stills. Mihály Várkonyi in the role of Pontius. Várkonyi, who had been discovered by Cecil B. Yes! That’s right! Cecil B. Himself!
 
Barbara La Marr as Mary Magdalen. She seemed to be gazing   at   the   boy   with   profound   sympathy.   Now   my   dear, you should go straight home, and do your Latin and German homework. Tomorrow is Monday, after all. Yes, no denying. And no denying that i’ll never do any Latin or German homework again.
 
No more school. Not tomorrow and not the day after. Never again.   I’ve   stayed   out   for   weeks   already.   Father, by   the   way, always wrote me an excuse. He never failed to provide an excuse. “My son, having contracted severe influenza . . .
 
” When   the   boy   occasionally   showed   up   in   front   of   the teacher’s desk, Mr Pázmán would bow his head, his voice drip-ping with ominous sarcasm.
 
“Ah, greetings, a rare pleasure indeed!
 
” Next Mr Pázmán would read father’s note aloud. Oh, he’d been anticipating this. Yessir! This was one performance that never failed. Always a popular favorite. He would not miss it for the world.
 
And the class howled with laughter.
 
“. . . Having contracted severe influenza! So, it was influenza! Influenza!
 
” The boys had enough of that.
 
Still, that oppressive feeling in the evenings! Especially Sunday evenings! That tomorrow, maybe, after all . . . But no! We’ve made our decision. An irrevocable decision.
 
But maybe that isn’t even father lying in the other bed.
 
Because one time someone else got out of that bed, as if cast up by a dark wave. It was at night, that’s right, in the middle of the night. A balding, pudgy character. Totally wasted and worn out, one hand groping about in the dark. Looking for a chair? For something to clutch at? The voice was thick and pulpy, yet at the same time sort of severe.
 
“Tell me kid . . . You been with a woman yet?
 
” The boy sat up. He was unable to answer. Yet another question he was unable to answer. All he could do was stare at that shadowy figure.
 
He heard father’s voice from the depths of the room.
 
“Watch it, Tuta! I’m going to kick you out . . .”
 
“But my dear Gyula, I merely wanted to give the kid a word of advice . . .”
 
“Let me give you a word of advice: you’ll be out on your ass in a second . . .”
 
“The kid’s never going to get laid!”
 
“Don’t you worry about the kid!”
 

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