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The Sojourn

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"The Sojourn" is no exception and, in terms of the power of its prose, deserves to be placed on the same shelf as Remarque, Hemingway, and Heller (though you won’t find a trace of humor in this sobering novel.) Krivak’s style is simple, direct, and sedate, but when violence appears, it comes in unforgettable detail:

"Miro was killed in a wave of shelling by the Russians, blown in half, this man who fought in their company said, but taking some time to die as his legless trunk of a body lay against the stump of a fallen tree and he clawed at the sky, pleading for someone to help him."

"The Sojourn" is told in three parts and Krivak paces his cadence to the beat of a three-act play, beginning with a prologue set in 1899 in a Colorado mining town where Jozef’s father, a Slovak immigrant, oversees the smelter. The opening section ends with a shocking scene in which Jozef’s mother is killed on a train trestle, as she tosses the infant into the river below to save him. As the main part of the book starts, we find Jozef and his father have eventually moved back to the “ol’ kawntree,” to a small village “in the northeast corner of the Hungarian Empire.” The elder Vinich retreats to the pastoral life of a shepherd. He raises his son to be a hunter who can become invisible against the earth – a trait that will later serve him well as a sniper.

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