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Burying the Typewriter: A Memoir Paperback – July 3, 2012
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'...an impressive feat of narrative skill. ... Carmen Bugan has written a moving and truthful first-hand account of a story that cannot fail to absorb; her skill as a writer makes it an exemplary memoir as well.'--Patrick McGuinness, The Times Literary Supplement
'A stunningly powerful piece of writing, a modern classic.' --Bee Wilson, Sunday Times
'A book touched with grace.'--Paul Bailey, The Independent
“In Burying the Typewriter, Carmen Bugan delivers neither a memoir of blame nor a hagiography. What she has drawn, within the story of her own childhood, is a complex portrait of an exasperating father, a man who happens to be a hero in the eyes of Amnesty International and the Western World, a hero in the service of a just cause. But, while he may be the driving force behind her story . . . it is her world that is revealed here, a world she was forced to leave behind and that she looks back on now with sorrow, pride, longing and rage.” ―Lynn Freed, Bakeless Prize judge
About the Author
Carmen Bugan is the author of the collection of poetry Crossing the Carpathians. Her work has been published in Harvard Review, the Times Literary Supplement, and Modern Poetry in Translation.
Top Customer Reviews
These themes could be the "stuff" of any other coming-of-age memoir. There is even a "first love" that helps to universalize Bugan's narrative. What sets this book apart is the context of surveillance, deprivation, and terror imposed by Ceausescu's secret police (the "Securitate"). As the family sleeps together in their clothes, just in case there is some sort of disturbance in the night, Bugan's early years are transformed by this book into a revelation of two "secrets" that even the Securitate could never have discovered, much less understand.
On one hand, the young girls' journey at the heart of the story reveals how loss of innocence feels in beautifully unadorned prose. The deeper secrets are harder to unravel and eventually become a quest of reconciliation with a hidden past. This "book within the book" is an act of bearing witness, of unmasking the masquerade of a brutal totalitarian regime. In comparison to the "coming-of-age journey," this other journey can only begin to find a destination years after the Bugan family emigrates to Michigan in 1989.Read more ›
Of the many accounts of life under a tyrannical regime, this is one of the very best and one of the most moving.
Carmen was born in 1970 in Ceausescu's Romania; but her first six years are idyllic. Her rather severe parents, Ion and Mioara, ran a grocer's shop, from early morning till late in the evening, in a little town some 15 kilometers from their home village, and during the week her much more indulgent maternal grandparents looked after her and her younger sister Loredana on their small farm. They adored their grandparents, of whom Carmen paints a loving picture, as she also does of her paternal grandmother. Her response to the beauties of nature never desert her even in the hard times to come, and her memories of childhood are full of happy descriptions of what every season had to offer in fauna and flora, in scents and in foods, of religious festivals, of folk myths and of beautiful rituals of charity by which the villagers believe they are storing up blessings for themselves in a heaven which they visualize in very concrete terms - communist propaganda notwithstanding.
There is a charming innocence about these scenes, for at the time the children do not yet know that Ion had already been in prison once, sentenced in 1961 to seven years for protesting against the communist regime. The first hint that the world is grim comes about a third of the way through the book, when Carmen is about eleven and when the children become aware of food-shortages, the corruption associated with it, the government's campaign against hoarders.Read more ›
AT THIS POINT YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ THE BOOK BEFORE ANY MORE OF THIS REVIEW LEST I SPOIL YOUR ENJOYMENT. THEN COME BACK AND SEE IF YOU AGREE.
The author was born in 1970 and lived in Romania until 1989 when her family was allowed to emigrate to America. Her father was a committed opponent of the Ceausescu regime and suffered for it – as did his family. However, only long afterwards did she read the files of the Securitate [secret police] that detailed what was happening in her earlier childhood. She was too young herself to even be conscious of, still less understand, this. Consequently, memories of this time are much less troubled. She provides a magical account of life in a small town in a poor country. She tells stories of her grandparents, her neighbours, her pets, nature. She relates folk beliefs and folk practices. She captures childhood fantasies and imaginings.
Then her father goes back to prison in 1983. The author is now her in her teens, her mother has another sickly baby. Carmen has to take on many more family responsibilities. The harassment of the state is relentless. She cannot but be aware of it, as the later chapters make clear. In the end, exile is the only option. Her description of the last few weeks in her homeland is so well written and touching.
Many years later she goes back to Romania. The country has changed, of course, some people she traces, others she cannot find. But it is clear that there is a world she cannot recover, to which she can never return, from which she will forever be an exile – her childhood.
Carmen Bugan writes beautifully. Her memoir is beguiling. I would also recommend this book to those in Europe who are so hostile to Romania and its people. Both are special as a poet such as this shows.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A charming and informative piece about life in communist Romania.Published 11 months ago by Philip G. Eidelberg
"Burying the Typewriter" is a fascinating memoir that gives a very interesting insider's view of growing up as the daughter of a political dissident in communist Romania. Read morePublished 12 months ago by NoWireHangers
I bought this book because I considered entering a contest judged by this author who was unknown to me. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Nancy Nichols
Poetic language which conveys the idyllic childhood of the author. I found it hard to put down and had a sense of loss when I'd finished reading it. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Shirley Schmidli
I heard a conversation with the author and storyline appealed to me because I love memoirs, and I thought it would be interesting to learn about Romania, a country with which I... Read morePublished on June 23, 2014 by Muriel Brathwaite
I choose this book for my book club. A true story that happened in our lifetime.
Will Carmen do a follow-up of what life is like in Michigan?