Monday, July 25, 2011

God Bless America

Mark SaFranko
God Bless America

Murder Slim Press, 2010

A small American town Trenton. The postwar years. Childhood of a future writer Max Zajack. Scandals between parents, losers-relatives, stupid neighbors, racism, school lessons, household duties. Everything that surrounds little Max, he hates. Max tells the story not from the perspective of a young boy, yet not really knowing the world, but from the perspective of an adult who knows too much. In the story there is no innocence, hope and joyful rose-colored glasses, which seem to be inherent in all children. But not in Max. He, it seems, from the first day of his life knew there would be no good for his life. Yes, and how we can hope for something, if you are surrounded with a loser father, until his death called to work on the most impenetrable work, and his psychic mother, obsessed with cleanliness, drunken relatives, idiots classmates. America itself is rolling slowly into the abyss together with the people inhabiting it. If in the U.S. there is a paradise place, then Mark SaFranko does not know about this. His America is the land of immigrants and blacks.

Little Max has no delusions about himself as well. He is so passive that even after being beaten and robbed, he did not care. Max realizes that he is not far gone from his clueless father and a nervous mother. He goes with the flow and he does not care much where he will be: «I did nothing, nothing ever happened, and nothing was ever going to happen. But life went on. Even if you were miserable, life always went on».

SaFranko is a master to build excellent individual scenes. The whole book is divided into small chapters, and each chapter is almost a complete story, stand-alone story. Despite the monotony the life of Max is a full of events. All of them are usually tragic and comic at the same time.

«God Bless America» is probably the funniest book I've read this year. There are so many idiotic situations, so much stupidity, so much light-heartedness. Without this sinister laughter, the book would be totally bleak.

This Mark SaFranko is a great talent and his «God Bless America» is a small masterpiece.

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