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TRYING NOT TO GO MAD
on January 26, 2013
The author of this novel was born in Romania in 1953, and after becoming a teacher, butted heads with Ceaucescu's Securitate. She was subjected to repeated threats until she got to Berlin in 1987. "The Appointment," brilliantly written about this horrendous time, shows why she was chosen for a Nobel Prize.
The narrator is a young woman living in a desolate Romanian city who is ordered to appear before a Major Albu several times a week for being a suspected spy. The informer is the boss of a clothing factory where she had worked, whose advances she spurned. His retaliation was to report that she had been slipping notes into some of the men's jackets they made, which had been a desperate attempt on her part to try to reach out to anyone in another country who might help her.
The Major warns that she must arrive by 10am sharp on various days of his choosing. The shoddy, irregular tram she rides to his office building forces her to allow two hours traveling time to make sure she's not late. Aside from worrying about being on time, she tries to calm herself and be alert for the questioning. When she arrives, Albu never fails to brutally pinch her fingertips while slobbering on her hand. This annoying gesture becomes something much worse later on.
Looking out at bleak images along the route and being in the company of the various and strange people that ride the tram, the narrator tries to make sense of her life. The plot is framed around these trips to the appointments, which she notices are becoming more and more frequent. As time passes, her thoughts and memories become more revealing, but they also become more confusing. This is a very intriguing way to build to the climax, which takes some careful reading to understand.