Reviews of ‘Europa’

Pricks and Kicks

New York Review of Books, 5 November, 1998

By Gabriele Annan

Europa is a virtuoso tragicomic tour de force, very funny, with quirky, appealing characters, an unpredictable story, and a shocking denouement. Stream-of-consciousness embraces philosophical reflection and running – no, galloping – commentary. Details of behavior and environment are, pungently, observed as they race by, and Parks’s mimicry can compete for accuracy and comicality with the very best stand-up comedians – Woody Allen, say. Jerry isn’t Jewish, but like Allen he is a schlemiel with too much brain and self-awareness for his own good.

The sentences of his inner monologue go on for entire paragraphs and the longest paragraphs can tumble on for pages. Yelps of recognition, dismay, pain, rage, and urgent sexual need bob along on the torrent. It’s like rafting down the Upper Rhine – except that such metaphors are off limits because at the heart of this novel is a polemic against cliché, with special reference to the sanctimonious new clichés of European Union- consociativismo, for instance, a loathsome Italian coinage for ‘the sad glue that keeps couples and countries and coach parties together’. Or even worse, ‘United Colors of Benetton.’ Actually, the topical clichés of Europe merely reflect the cliché-ridden condition of mankind as a whole.

The tempo of Park’s prose mimics the journey of a chartered bus across the Alps with its endemic torture of piped music, piped video and ‘the strong and nauseating smell of plastics and synthetic upholstery.’ It begins when Jerry joins a delegation of foreign-language teachers and students from Milan University. They travel overnight to Strasbourg to protest to the European Parliament about Italy’s discrimination against foreign ‘lectors’ or instructors, who don’t have tenure, whereas their Italian colleagues do. Jerry has no interest in the cause. He has always seen this job…as a mere stepping-stone, a sensible way-station, an income to tide me over, while I picked up my ticket to somewhere else (until, like my marriage, it became a desert island, a place of loathed and ultimately terrifying convenience), if I lose my job, I will have lost the last element in life, after wife and daughter and mistress that gave me any sense of role and identity.

Jerry feels no guilt about leaving his wife with that cruel explanation that he found her repulsive. He loves his daughter, whose eighteenth birthday coincides with the expedition to Strasbourg and makes him feel guilty about missing her party; his mistress left him two years ago. Still, there he is, with his beady eye on his fellow passengers. All but two of the students are girls, mostly very young, naive and touchingly well-intentioned, as well as sexually desirable. They have been collectively christened ‘totties’ by Jerry’s crude and lecherous English colleague Colin, who makes relentless passes at them and draws Jerry into some deplorable ‘tottie-talk’.

Jerry is there because of his former mistress, a French lector and a leading spirit in the delegation – desirable, enormously sexy, intelligent, ambitious, and a Euro-prig. Their affair ended when Jerry hit her after discovering that she was two-timing him with a German lector named Georg. She defended her infidelity on the grounds that Georg was having a grim time looking after his little boy while his wife lay incurably sick in the hospital; going to bed with him was part of ‘the mosaic of friendship’ (a prize priggish cliché) and it was immature of Jerry to object. Jerry has been pretending that he has got over her, but he knows he hasn’t and ‘that the very instant I took this decision was also the instant I recognized and recognized that I had always recognized that coming on this trip was one of those mistakes I was made to make.’
Until the last sentence in the book, Jerry never names his former lover.

If I never say her name, although I think of little else but her, it is partly because that name is still so powerful that its very articulation causes an emotional seizure, an immediate tension that I feel physically, but also and perhaps more importantly, because by never saying it I keep it that way, I prolong its power, I prevent its dilution in repetition, the way a word like Europe has been diluted into thin air with all the times everybody says Europe this and Euro that, though once it was the name of a girl a god became a bull to rape and half the heroes hoped to find.

27 thoughts on “Reviews of ‘Europa’

  1. Chinese pear

    I truly lovе your website.. Great colors & theme.
    Did you make this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning
    tо create my very own website and would love tο learn where you
    got this from or exactly what the themе is named.
    Cһeers!

  2. Murray Mcquesten

    One thing I have actually noticed is there are plenty of misguided beliefs regarding the lenders intentions any time talking about property foreclosures. One fable in particular is that often the bank prefers to have your house. The financial institution wants your hard earned money, not your house. They want the cash they loaned you together with interest. Averting the bank will draw a new foreclosed realization. Thanks for your write-up.

  3. Celeste Ehly

    Howdy! Do you know if they make any plugins to assist with Search Engine Optimization? I’m trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I’m not seeing very good gains. If you know of any please share. Thank you!

  4. Anthony Bader

    Howdy very nice blog!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing ..I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feedsalso? I am satisfied to search out so many helpful information right herein the submit, we want develop extra strategies in this regard, thank you for sharing.. . . . .

  5. Armand Correl

    Revolutional update of SEO/SMM package “XRumer 16.0 + XEvil”:captcha breaking of Google, Facebook, Bing, Hotmail, SolveMedia, Yandex,and more than 8400 another size-types of captchas,with highest precision (80..100) and highest speed (100 img per second).You can connect XEvil 3.0 to all most popular SEO/SMM software: XRumer, GSA SER, ZennoPoster, Srapebox, Senuke, and more than 100 of other programms. Interested? You can find a lot of demo videos about XEvil in YouTube.You read it – then IT WORKS!Good luck! XRumer201708

  6. Dian Maria

    After reading your blog post, I browsed your website a bit and noticed you aren’t having good traffic for your website in Google as you could be. I possess a handful of blogs myself, and I think you should take a look at https://seowebsitetraffic.net/order/, just google it. You’ll find it’s a very lovely help that can bring you a lot more visitors and improve your sales. Keep up the quality posts.

  7. Shaina Draleau

    magnificent submit, very informative. I wonder why the opposite specialists of thissector do not realize this. You must proceed your writing. I’msure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  8. Riley Cotey

    I’m just writing to make you be aware of what a wonderful discovery my wife’s girl developed checking your blog. She mastered such a lot of things, which include what it’s like to have a great teaching heart to let many others effortlessly fully understand several grueling matters. You truly did more than our own desires. I appreciate you for providing such useful, safe, educational and fun thoughts on this topic to Jane.

  9. istripper crack

    whoah this blog is great i love reading your articles. Keep up the good work! You know, many people are searching around for this info, you can aid them greatly.

  10. recuva pro latest version download

    There are some fascinating points in time on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them heart to heart. There may be some validity but I will take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we wish more! Added to FeedBurner as effectively

  11. rainbow six siege hacks

    Generally I don’t read post on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, very great post.

  12. mcent browser point hack script

    Great goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too wonderful. I really like what you’ve acquired here, really like what you’re saying and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still care for to keep it sensible. I can’t wait to read far more from you. This is really a terrific web site.

  13. hydrargyrum 9.0

    I have been browsing online greater than three hours these days, but I never found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is lovely price sufficient for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made excellent content material as you probably did, the net can be a lot more useful than ever before.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *