>“Hungarian Relief” by Madeena Spray Nolan is in the July issue of The Sun. Coming of age, with a twist, and the twist is that it’s the Soviet Union’s crushing of the Hungarian uprising of 1956 that spurs the misfit narrator into action. Despite being unpopular, and at the risk of becoming even more unpopular, she attempts to raise money to help Hungarian children. Until, that is, the arrival of the Soviet tanks makes clear even to her how futile her efforts are. Still, she’s collected $13.23, and so her father, who has been increasingly distant, takes her to the post office so she can buy a money order and mail a contribution to an aid agency. The narrator’s sense of discomfort, at home and at school and even in a world that would allow the mess in Hungary to happen, is what makes this story work. I’m not a fan of the “coming of age” story with child or teen narrators (even when, as hear, the story is told with some distance), but this one appealed to me. One reason, I suspect, is that the Hungarian uprising has been on my mind lately, because it also plays a pivotal role in a novel I just finished reading a few days ago, Fellow Travelers, by Thomas Mallon. An odd coincidence.
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May 10, 2008
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