An odd mixture of sexual adventure and a partial history of Hungary after America entered WWII and in a sketchy way stretching back into the remote past of Hungary’s military humiliations, mainly at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. The sex is not explicit though there are moments of shock and though the cover is one I wouldn’t want to sit reading on a bus, one can see images unlike, but analogous to, in a certain tabloid newspaper. The contents, however, will not trouble anyone over the age of 15.
The emergence of this book caused a stir in the publishing world and it quickly became notorious, praised by people like Brigid Brophy and Anthony Burgess, and numberless European critics. As well as recounting some of his exploits as a young man – mainly trying to get women (mostly older) to go to bed with him, (not all succumb) he also gives us a stirring account of Hungary as a nation fighting against Russian occupation and his disillusionment with his country’s future is complete as he crosses the Austro-Hungarian border and finds refuge in Italy. From there he goes to Canada, finishes his degree, and takes up a post in the remote wilds of Saskatchewan.
This is well written, not prurient, except for one moment near the beginning. Given its subject matter, It is only gently erotic and shouldn’t be dismissed without seeing if it’s to your taste. It’s more interesting than you might think. Margaret Drabble says: “You cannot put it down: witty, moving and it’s all about sex, truly original.” I didn’t see much of a witty nature, but it is more than just an interesting curiosity. I liked it.