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Tranquility is a living seismograph of the internal quakes and ruptures of a mother and son trapped within an Oedipal nightmare amidst the suffocating totalitarian embrace of Communist Hungary. Andor Weér, a thirty-six-year-old writer, lives in a cramped apartment with his shut-in mother, Rebeka, who was once among the most celebrated stage actresses in Budapest. Unable to withstand her maniacal tyranny but afraid to leave her alone, their bitter interdependence spirals into a Sartrian hell of hatred, lies, and appeasement. Then Andor meets the beautiful and nurturing Eszter, a woman who seems to have no past, and they fall wildly in love at first sight. With a fulfilling life seemingly within reach for the first time, Andor decides that he is ready to bring Eszter home to meet Mother. Though Bartis’s characters are unrepentantly neurotic and dressed in the blackest humor, his empathy for them is profound. A political farce of the highest ironic order, concluding that "freedom is a condition unsuitable for humans," Tranquility is ultimately, at its splanchnic core, a complex psychodrama turned inside out, revealing with visceral splendor the grotesque notion that there’s nothing funnier than unhappiness.
howled. “You’ll all die if you eat her!” I screamed, but they kept tearing, lacerating and dismembering her, the girl continued laughing and her blood filled the decaying forest with the scent of mint. “You miserable slut!” I howled. “You won’t make a murderer out of me!” I screamed, and began to run among the trees, though I knew well that it made no sense, and mud was pouring from my mouth. . . . “The sight of poverty affects you this much?” asked the priest, but with my hand I indicated that
the gilded imitation-snakeskin strap. Bastards, they think they can turn me into an extra, she said, and I picked the feathers off her thighs. Oh, that feels so good, Son. Do my soles, too, she said, and raised her foot to put it in my lap, but I grasped her ankle and kept the foot in front of my face. Relax, Mother, I said, warming her sole with my breath, before beginning to massage the slender toes. I put her heel on my left shoulder because I didn’t dare put it in my lap, but I didn’t want
that aches most,” she said and crumpled a pillow to shove under her belly. “I should get a normal chair. By the time your book is finished you can take me to the hospital again.” “I don’t want the book,” I said. “Don’t talk back to me. Go on, rub it all over me,” she said, and slowly I rubbed the cream all over her body, starting at her neck, along the hips, all the way to the toes, and then between the spread thighs I found my way back to the area of the pearling labia but took care not to
“Let’s not talk about that now,” she said. “Sure,” I said and we were silent again. I tried to look at her face as if for the first time and thought that even if she had taken my arm on Szabadság Bridge only this morning, I’d still tell her everything without hesitation, and then at least I wouldn’t know why her hair came down only to her shoulders and why her eyes were becoming wrinkled. “I’m going home,” she said. “Stay a little longer,” I said. “I mean I am moving back home.” “When?” I
all I even have a plastic shopping bag in my pocket; in short, I tried to piece together this chain but realized it was the same kind of rubbish as the claim that my mother would have no bread because the foreman stole ball bearings from the factory so he could make a scooter for his child. And it is rubbish not because there is no Good Lord who’d fool around this long with such a house of cards, but because a person who would fool around with such things is somebody who from one side sees things