Terrorism can come in many forms. Is state-sponsored persecution and injustice any less painful for families and loved ones of the victims? Or the survivors? Michael Lavigne scrutinizes the minds and souls not only of victims but of perpetrators as well. What do they want?
Amir, a young Arab, detonates his suicide belt at a bus stop directly below Roman Guttman’s office. Roman is miraculously alive, surrounded by the shattered window. An émigré from the former Soviet Union, he is a survivor yet again. He will recover from his physical injuries, but he struggles, embarking on a dangerous odyssey, in his quest for meaning. He perceives the head of the bomber tagging along.
Disembodied Amir, denied Paradise (temporarily, he hopes), doomed to follow Roman, thinks back to his childhood, when his cousin and hero, Fadi, asked him to wait in an ice cream parlor while he left with his friends to plot ‘an adventure.’ Amir tried to follow, couldn’t catch up, and lost the chance for a delicious banana split. “I am certain that what I felt that day, I also feel today: a wanting for something I have never tasted, but without which life cannot be said to have been properly lived.”
The third voice is that of Roman’s thirteen year old daughter, Anna (Anyusha), who has never known her mother — the beautiful, ethereal, refusenik, Collette — seen in flashbacks. Survivor Anna searches as well; her path, too, puts her in harm’s way.
The shards of glass in the opening sequence could represent the lives of the protagonists; glittering, fragile, longing to be made whole. Roman Guttman’s thirst, as he ignores his body’s needs, is both real and metaphorical. After the bombing, Anna begins a journal, hoping that if she writes about her father hale and well, life will imitate art.
Michael Lavigne’s prose is confident, powerful, and lyrical. The reader is smoothly shifted between time and place; hallucination and/or fantasy and reality.