Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Lazarus Project (241-292)

This last section of the book confirmed what I thought to be slowly building within the story and in my mind. The upsetting and inevitable reality set in, although not necessarily in the way I had expected.

This section began with a recollection of the attack on Lazarus and Olga's family that could be described in many ways. It was very chilling and suspenseful and scary. I thought about what it would be like, witnessing the horrific death of Mr. Mandelbaum as Lazarus had, and barely escaping the attackers himself. I imagined what it would be like to sit there, waiting and knowing that they were coming my way and would probably do something similar to me. After the attack, the politsyant claimed that they were all dead and it was time to move on. He had to have known that some of them were alive. He was reluctant to take their lives, just like he was reluctant to let his fellow attackers beat Lazarus to death or rape Olga. When she snaps out of her daydream, she is talking to Taube, and she asks him to do something for him. I suppose she was asking him to pick up Isador and help him escape.

Next we join Brik and Rora trying to make their way to Sarajevo. They plan on taking a cab to Bucharest so they can hop on a train to a city that will let them take a bus to Sarajevo. This section had a lot of foreshadowing in it. The first example I noticed came on page 253. Brik says "All we had left to do together, Rora and I, was get back to Sarajevo." He said it then as if they would part ways once they got there and never be around each other again. Anyway, they stayed up most of the night and talked before catching the cab the next morning. Their cab driver was a shady looking sex trafficker named Seryozha who basically used them to transport a young lady across international borders without getting caught. At first Rora said he thought Seryozha was planning on killing them. But he was just acting weird because he had to go pick up a sex slave. Seryozha speeds the whole time and drives haphazardly probably because there aren't too many cars on the road. After a while, he starts to fall asleep at the wheel. Brik doesn't know what to do because a part of him wants to say something but another part of him wants to continue to flirt with danger. On page 261 he says "Perhaps, I thought, a quick death would resolve this uncomfortable situation." Its like he doesn't even care whether or not he dies. I think his life is beginning to lose focus. He no longer knows what to do about anything. His marriage is struggling, he isn't having much success with writing as of then. He is struggling with morality issues. And he's not too sure if he wants to live through it anymore. The girl does not do anything either. Perhaps she is wishing that they do crash so she can somehow escape the life she is about to be forced into. But Rora saves the day when he wakes Seryozha up and talks to him until they can stop at a gas station.

Once they reach Bucharest Seryozha drops them off at the train station, but not before he tries to hustle them for more money. They blow him off and lurk behind a pillar until Seryozha goes to the bathroom. They follow him at a distance and wait just long enough for him to get into a stall and get his pants down. They then proceed to barge in on him and beat him senseless. Brik breaks his hand in the process. They leave, set the girl free, and send her off with a handful of cash.

The next chapter begins with Isador who is taken by Taube's men. They knocked him out and he woke up in a coffin with a dead body pressing against his chest. They take him to a basement and hide him for a while. Later Olga is told that they will try to get him to Canada so nothing will happen to him. It flashes over to Lazarus' funeral with Olga and Taube. Olga can barely handle the grief. Schuettler and Miller stay behind to try and pretend like they care about the situation. Of course the newspaper article portrays Schuettler as the good guy. It even says that Olga says things that she didn't say.

In the final chapter of the book, Brik and Rora arrive at Sarajevo. Brik is worried about the situation with Rora and Rambo. He keeps asking if Rora is worried about what is going to happen. This is some more foreshadowing. They go to the hospital where Rora's sister Azra is a surgeon. She checks Brik's hand and tells him it is broken. He goes down to get it X-rayed, and finds the room after a bit of a struggle. I thought it was funny that so many people smoked in the hospital. You are not allowed anywhere near a hospital with a cigarette in the U.S., and here the patients and workers were all smoking it up. Brik talks to the nurse about America. He neglects to tell her about his wife. She tries to convince him to stay in Sarajevo, saying that there is nothing in America for him. She says he needs to marry one of their women. He is always looking for attention from somewhere. If he talks to another woman, he doesn't tell them about his wife. He constantly talks about how Mary never wants to talk to him and likes being away from him, but he admits to being relieved when he tries to call her and can't get a hold of her on page 283. He likes touring around his homeland without Mary and realizes he really doesn't want to go back. He always acts like Mary doesn't want him, but its he that doesn't really want her. Brik leaves the hospital and tells Rora and Azra that he needs to take some time alone in his hometown. So for the next few days he reminisces about his childhood as he walks around the city, bumping into people he used to know and greeting everyone he passed. He seemed genuinely happy to be back.

After a few days he and Rora agreed to meet over a cup of coffee. Rora was sitting at the coffee shop doing what he did best: taking pictures and flirting. Suddenly a muscle-bound, tattooed individual walks up, pulls out a gun and shoots Rora seven times without saying a word. He picks up Rora's camera and walks off. You later find out that the guy is just a random druggie who wanted Rora's camera so he could sell it for drugs. The gun accidentally went off the first time and he just kept on shooting, or so he said. Brik arrives to see Rora's bloody corpse lying there in the coffee shop. Nobody claims to have seen anything. The cops don't act like they care that much. He says nobody seemed particularly upset by the murder on page 286. Brik spends the next few days trying to figure how to console Azra. At the same time, he expresses the will to write a letter to Mary explaining all his thoughts and feelings. He is scared to have children. He doesn't want to come back to America. He says he will never know her and that he is elsewhere now. And yet he can not bring himself to write the letter. He visits the hospital again to get his hand checked, which is worse than it was. Azra treats him and they begin to talk about Rora and Rambo. Come to find out that Rambo never killed Miller. Miller was still alive and well. Rora had been lying about the whole story the entire time. His death was completely unrelated to Rambo. He was killed by "a boy with a gun" (page 291). I didn't see that one coming. Rora was, however, telling the truth about Azra's husband. So that makes me wonder what else he was lying about. He lied about Rambo, so why not other things? Certainly all those stories weren't real now.

The book ends with Brik deciding to stay in Sarajevo for a while, at least until his hand heals. It doesn't say whether he ever goes back. Or whether he and Mary stay together. The only thing it assures is that he will be writing. After all, that is what he needed his hand to heal for. So in the end the story about Brik and Rora had been somewhat happy-go-lucky until it came crashing down at the end. Lazarus' and Olga's story had been the depressing, grief filled story, and yet things sort of turned out for the best at the end. Lazarus was dead, and Olga still had to deal with that, but the city laid Lazarus' soul to rest. There was no civil unrest and everything worked out in the end. Basically, the stories pulled a bit of a role reversal at the end. Maybe the moral of this story is that nobody gets to be happy.

1 comment:

  1. First of all, I have never been a big fan or Rora. He always seemed heartless and conceded. I was kind of glad to see him go. This last section we read was pretty intense and hard to fully understand but you wrapped it up very well. I liked the dialogue on 252 when Brik was trying to ask Mary about death and how she felt. He got mad when she wouldn't answer. Most women take death worse then men I believe but in this case, it is not this way. I guess being the surgeon she is, she is used to seeing people pass and it seems to leave her unfazed. She basicially says that when people are dead they are dead and there is nothing left to do. I guess in a way that is true but it is never wrong or weak to mourn the death of someone. I think that she is trying to be a strong woman and act like nothing fazes her. Nobody but stone-cold killers could be able to reconcile somebody's death with no mourning or time of rest. At least, I can't! Good job with the blog though, it was very in depth and full of detail!