Black Dog Of Fate Reading English Literature Essay
|✅ Paper Type: Free Essay||✅ Subject: English Literature|
|✅ Wordcount: 5407 words||✅ Published: 1st Jan 2015|
Balakian is a poet. The colors, textures, sounds, and lights he describes paint a picture of a kitchen but no people. When he mentions himself opening the cabinet a particular way, releasing a smell into the room, he breathes life into it, his younger self almost climbing into the image. After seeing it from afar, the reader himself is finally drawn close enough to the room to smell it.
"If I lived in a house where the old country still had a presence, why wasn't there a map, or photograph, or beautiful drawing of it somewhere, like the one the Zandonellas had of Milan in their TV room? Since there was no picture of the old country in our house and since I didn't have one etched in my mind, the old country came to mean my grandmother. Whatever it was, she was. Whatever she was, it was" (p. 16).
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Through his younger self, Balakian introduces questions that have troubled generations of young Armenians following the Genocide. To them, Armenia's history has at times existed almost literally only in its surviving people, so scant was its recognition by the world. It was up to Balakian's grandmother to impress him with the facts of his Armenian roots because nothing else was there for him.
"After my grandmother died, Armenia seemed more and more remote, and I lost my direct and visceral sense of the ancient Near Eastern world that she embodied. Yet, no matter how deeply I sank into suburban life and the happy society of teenage Tenafly, my memory of my grandmother was a strange shadow appearing now and then to remind me that there was something else I needed to know" (p. 27).
Here, Balakian describes the deep cultural memory that almost cries out to him from within his head, imploring him, guilting him to seek out the full story of Armenia. He shows that his grandmother, without outright telling him everything, made him want to learn about their culture's past, because this is how many young Armenians were influenced. In other words, though there were hundreds of independent news reports of the Armenian genocide, the will to know the truth is just as crucial to Armenia's recovery, and has been passed on through the influence of people like Balakian's grandmother on their survivors.
"I feel like I am dreaming, but the headboard is hard against my neck and I sit propped up in bed watching my grandmother. Was she dreaming, in front of me? 'Everything smelled rotten. Hagop was on the ground. I kicked him'" (p. 31).
The foggiest moment of Balakian's memoir so far, while he ran a fever of 104, is interrupted by a terribly lucid recounting by his grandmother of her darkest memory from the Armenian Genocide. This is the water on the seeds she planted throughout his life, giving brand-new context to all of his life's knowledge of Armenian culture. From these watered seeds would spring the guilt binding him to learning Armenia's history.
"'You're lost here,' Auntie Anna said, and made it clear that we had sold our souls to a barbarous society that didn't know the difference between Monet and Donald Duck, Mallarme and Michener. We would become just like everybody else-a thin slice of yellow plastic cheese in the long, soft loaf of Velveeta that was America. Before my mother could erupt, my father interrupted with some comment about how well the kebabs had come out, and members of each side of the family tried to disentangle the two women by urging them to get the dishes and platters and bowls of food around the table" (p. 37).
The suburban lifestyle, Aunt Anna believed, would distance Balakian's family from its Armenian roots and make them lose the memory of the slaughter of their people just as the Turkish government wanted them to. Of course, this was untrue; the memories, or thick shadows, nagging suggestions of them, were thoroughly imprinted upon at least Peter Balakian by his grandmother. Anna is probably expressing unsuppressible anger from the Genocide.
"But the argument at second base over Abraham's wife had intruded on my game and my afternoon and made me realize, as I did when I spoke with my mother on that December morning, that we were born into things; we had 'backgrounds,' as my friends' parents would say. My Jewish friends had their own language and rituals they carried out each week that were bound up in thousands of years of history and stories and ideas. There was something secret and alluring about it all" (p. 43).
Balakian was, at first, beyond oblivious to Armenian culture; he didn't even recognize that people were born into different cultures. When he does recognize that, he is drawn to Jewish culture because it's the one he's most aware of. He likes the idea of a distinct culture but doesn't know his own.
"'I'm running away. You stink,' I was shouting now. My mother then said something that struck me as strange. 'Don't get too attached to places in life, Peter.' But in the spring of 1960, my need to be a Jew had more to do with leaving Dickerson Road than a deeper understanding of the real kinship Armenians and Jews shared" (p.44).
Balakian has a shallow understanding of the idea, at least, that people were born into different cultures and believed on some level that he was intrinsically Jewish. He was actually only attached to the specific example of Jewish culture that he knew: the people on Dickerson Road. In Spring 1960, Balakian was, in general, ignorant of the events that had shaped his culture, so it's a little ironic that he grew up on a street saturated with a culture his had so much in common with.
"The culture that was misunderstood was my mother's: her feminine, Armenian, post-Genocide disposition. At certain moments her unacknowledged cultural past became an irrepressible force, a statement of beauty and sometimes rage that asserted itself in the name of things culinary, in the name of the kitchen, the inviolable sanctuary of a culture that had barely escaped extinction. In the kitchen, my mother really was saying: We are alive and well, things have order, the world has grace and style" (p. 51).
This part of Balakian's mother's culture is one thing Armenians have in common with Jews: They love food. The Armenians were starved during their Genocide, so Balakian's mother felt almost a right to good food in compensation. Food stood for solidity and order; for the world being the right way.
"Or to be at the Walls' with my feet on a hassock on a Saturday night, watching the whole of Love Is a Many Splendored Thing or Town Without Pity, a box of Oreos and a six pack of Mountain Dew at hand and not a parent in earshot. Such indulgences were impossible at our house, where an Armenian-American puritanism was beginning to rigidify as our first year on Crabtree Lane came to a close. Inside our new rooms with their marvelous appliances, my parents were ordering our lives-or perhaps were being ordered by the old habits of Armenian culture, in which the lines of authority between parents and children are clear and rituals of dining primary expressions of cultural continuity" (p. 56).
In the new neighborhood, the contrast between Balakian's Armenian household and America at large is magnified. Sadly denied the opportunity to live the American Dream for most of his life, instead cooped up in a Jewish neighborhood in the city, he wholly indulges himself in the white suburban culture he finds himself in. His parents turn the Armenian up to the equivalent of 11 of 11 possible units of Armenian to fight the perceived unsentimental, distracted values of white suburbia.
"As the years wore on and I found myself sitting in the back-seat of a '60 Chevy Bel Air and then a '63 Buick as we wound through the streets of Tenafly grading split-levels, ranches, and colonial revivals, my aunts and grandmother still had not found a house good enough to buy. There was something vicarious, voyeuristic, and sublimated about their harsh opinions of what were to them clear failings of the houses of northern New Jersey. Or was it that nothing in the material world was good enough for the heiresses of the family silk fortune lost to the Turks when the Armenians were driven from their homeland?" (p. 64)
Harsh Armenian-American criticism extending to everything reflects Balakian's family's holding onto the firm belief that they deserve compensation for the wrongs inflicted on them during the Armenian Genocide. Being virtually a core tenet of their culture, it shows how completely the Genocide changed them. They hold their heads high all the time; demanding respect became part of all Armenians' blood.
"Cigar smoke, coffee, hot dogs, damp turf, the good smells of Saturday afternoon like a distant world as I sat in the stands thinking about the small bald man and my father, and the ambulance with its eerie bed on wheels. I kept seeing his hand and the blood leaking onto the ground. By the end of the fourth quarter, when my father realized that we had not analyzed plays or forecast coach Donelli's calls and that, in fact, I had said almost nothing all afternoon, he turned to me and said, 'The man will be OK, he won't die, he had a small heart attack,' then he brushed his hand over my crew cut and said, 'you gotta be tough as nails, son'" (pp. 70-71)
At his age in this passage, Balakian was mystified by death, and consequently to some degree by his father, who confronted death almost daily. This is part of a continuing pattern in the interactions between father and son. For years, Dr. Balakian is awkward in his attempts to communicate deeply with his son about things including Armenian history and, here, life and death.
"There was an Armenian restaurant in Greenwich Village, The Dardanelles, named after the famous strait that links the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean. We drove there in rush-hour traffic for midya, cold mussles in their shells stuffed with currants, pine nuts, and rice. And there was The Golden Horn on 56th Street, named for an inlet of the Bosphorus. Why were Armenian restaurants in New York named after parts of Constantinople?" (pp. 74-75)
Though he doesn't explicitly know the details of Armenian history, Balakian sees hints everywhere. Thanks to the seeds his grandmother planted in him, these hints raise questions in him like those that many young Armenians have asked. Every bit of Armenian culture seems oriented towards the events of the 1910s, and yet he still can't reason them out from the outside.
"A twelve-inch piece of parchment with a three-by-five-inch photo of the family. My father with a Beatle haircut wearing a sailor suit. His eyes dark and playful. It's the spring of 1926. I think of him, not yet six, annoyed by the crease in his trousers. Trying to create order. The name of his birthplace has disappeared from the map, and the meaning of that map, too, has disappeared. I picture him leaning over the railing of the Berengaria, the Atlantic Ocean in the background" (p. 78)
Photographic memories are a continuous theme in this memoir. Balakian's imagining his father in a still photograph parallels the beginning, where he described a different scene, foreground and background, like this one. All of the details he gives are as if of a single concrete image. This is the visceral kind of detail that he wants to record in his writing.
"I love this gentle, calm way about him. I love the tact with which he respects my space. And I love to talk with him for hours about particular plays of the game, about the opposing team, about our game strategy. During these moments his Armenian silence and formality dissolved, and we expressed our love for each other" (p. 106).
In contrast to the way their relationship was through most of part III, on Monday when Balakian is on the school football team, the ice between him and his father seems to melt away. This mirrors the way he and his grandmother bonded over baseball.
"On our waning dates, the matter of poetry kept coming up. 'You're an elitist,' she said. 'Poetry is about all of us,' I said. 'It's goddamned life we're talking about.' 'Just 'cause I don't get it, you're putting me down,' she said" (p. 112).
Balakian's girlfriend Ellen demonstrates hostility to his new-found intellectualism. She is seemingly vexed by the idea of discussing poetry, taking personal offense even though he says nothing about her. Balakian's breaking up with her symbolizes his intellectual development as he is forced to move on from people who are openly hostile to the person he is becoming.
"Walking for miles through mud in a new pair of bell-bottoms and a rain-soaked tee shirt. Santana and Richie Havens echoing and blaring all day in the drizzle and rain and sun. A stranger passing me a clay pipe of hash, from which I took a toke and passed it to one of my friends. I felt odd with pumped-up biceps from a summer of weight lifting for football, and I wasn't sure if I belonged here, but I began to feel that day at Woodstock that college wasn't going to be what I had thought it would be just two months earlier, when my friends and I signed each other's high school yearbooks swearing that we would meet on opposing sides on the college gridiron in the coming years" (p. 115).
With two short sentences of visual and aural details, Balakian instantly brings the reader to a new setting and implies that time has passed for him to have arrived there. He only off-handedly mentions Woodstock, contributing to a sense of suddenly appearing someplace. Use of marijuana by the author is a continuing theme in AP Language and Composition perhaps intended to sway the students' opinions of the drug, or at least give them more insight into its use by authors and impact on literature.
"I am sending you an article concerning our own people-which unfortunately time and circumstance have not allowed me to talk about. In an era in which the misfortunes of other peoples are in the headlines constantly, it is most necessary and worthwhile to know about your own people. We have a tremendous historical ancient background with strife against odds, bravery against treachery, but eventual triumph. 50 short years ago it was felt that the Armenians were finished after World War I" (p. 116)
Balakian's father's tone remains formal in this, his most articulate speech yet about the Armenian race to his son. It comes after Balakian has been, as
"Old Larison Dining Hall filled up with students in faded blue jeans ant tee shirts with slogans on them like 'Make love wherever you are,' 'Stop the war now,' 'I brake for marijuana.' Some wore bandanas, some love beads. Some were barefoot, some wore moccasins. Faculty came in tweed jackets or torn jeans and sandals. Everyone was sitting on the floor, as joints were circulated and bottles of Boone's Farm apple wine and Mateus rose were chugged and passed" (p. 122).
This passage recalls the imagery with which Balakian began the chapter: The dining hall is like his own little Woodstock, with poetry instead of music. His life has turned sharply away from the world of frats and football, yet its trajectory has been consistent in a way. Football brought him closer to his father, and with his him he began to discuss ideas, philosophy, and the world at large; at around the same time, he came to know his aunts through their writing.
"When my mother barged into my room quite early the next morning, I don't know what she expected to find. Charlene and me? Or me under the covers, alone in pajamas? She found neither, because I had neglected to tell her that I had given my room to Allen and Peter, and that I was staying at Charlene's. What she witnessed exactly-that is, the precise details-I've never been able to find out, but my apartment mates who lived in abutting rooms said they heard her scream and run down the hallway and the stairs, and from their windows, watched her get in her car and drive away" (p. 125).
This incident, as comic relief, makes up in a way for the jab Balakian's mother took at him through his girlfriend in her Armenian Odar-concerned way. The deeper cultural connection between them through the poem Kaddish is lost beneath this normal noise of familial strife.
"And I, not sure whether Saroyan is an old kook or a prophet and still deferential enough to the Armenian patriarchal mode, go out the next day and buy a manual typewriter. The best manual typewriter I could find, which turned out to be a piece of junk, and I cursed Saroyan every time its bolts came undone. I pitched it a few years later in a dumpster off an exit ramp on route 80. But Saroyan was a literary patriarch, and Auntie Nona, who always encouraged and praised my writing, wanted me to connect with him" (p. 133).
With the generally positive tone of this chapter, Balakian humorously misleads the reader to guess this detail of his story about entering the social literary world would also be positive. He learned that although their ideas could change his life, the masters of the literary world weren't perfect in all regards.
"'You see,' she went on, composed again and talking like a critic, 'I believe that Saroyan, like all Armenians, was a natural utopian. We have a dream instead of a country. Because territory has eluded us, we have a freedom to invent that most people don't. The more our geography shrinks, the more our imaginations expand, the more we're like owls flying in the dark'" (p. 138).
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Aunt Nono speaks about Saroyan as an Armenian and expresses that Armenian history is inextricably tied up with the Armenian literary tradition. This describes Balakian in his personal development regarding literature and Armenia as well as Armenians as a whole. The chapter title, incidentally, is drawn from Aunt Nono's closing analogy because the chapter as a whole is fundamentally about Balakian's changing relationship with Armenia.
"I pulled into the long circular driveway at Graham House late on Sunday night feeling good about life. As I walked up the staircase, I realized I hadn't thought once about my grandmother all weekend. Not about church, or family, or hokee hankisd. I opened the French doors to my apartment, chucked my knapsack on my bed, sat on my garage-sale turquoise couch, and opened my notebook. I just needed to write, and I began" (p. 141).
Here Balakian suffers a breakthrough thanks to the Armenian guilt given to him by his grandmother triggered here in response to not thinking about hokee hankisd. For the first time Balakian releases his pure emotion by writing poetry, like some of his older relatives before him. As writing, including poetry, is vitally important to Armenian history, this signifies the beginning of a new stage in his relationship with Armenia.
"By the time the bus came rattling over the potholes of Knickerbocker road, I was lost in my father's birthplace. Ships moored along the Bosphorus. The water, green, tepid, caique-flecked, the glitter of silver. Terraced clumps of fid and olive trees. The dome of Hagia Sophia, golden, with minarets jutting up. Men in fezzes. Smells of shashlik and sewage in the streets" (p. 149)
Though he uses poetic language to describe slipping into his father's homeland through Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, immediately afterward, Balakian's diction shifts from connotative to denotative, his tone from poetic to serious. The history he gives is a basically totally factual account of events that would transform the Armenian people.
"Morgenthau's descriptions of Talaat, Enver, Djemal-the men who engineered the Armenian Genocide-fascinated me the way descriptions of Hitler did when I first read about the Holocaust. The leader of the triumvirate, Talaat Pasha, like Hitler, Napoleon, and Stalin, was an ethnic outsider-a Bulgarian gypsy whose peasant upbringing had not included the 'use of a knife and fork'" (p. 151).
His interest in Talaat Pasha reflects plainly the similarity between all four of the violent empire-builders he describes. It's interesting that Pasha was not raised to use a knife and fork; Adolf Hitler reportedly had distinctively awful table manners, eating rapidly and mechanically, running his finger under his nose, and eating so much cake that it might have significantly contributed to his flatulence. This is one of many comparisons of the Armenian Genocide to the Holocaust that will become more frequent as Balakian comes closer to the modern state of Armenian history.
"'Peeta, Peeta, Peeta. The starving Armenians.' Jimmy said it smoothly, like it was an old campaign slogan. 'When I was growing up in Charleston, if we left a green or some gravy on the plate, my mother would say, "Remember the starving Armenians."' 'How old were you? When your mother said that.' 'During the Great War, because I left home before the war was over.' 'Did you know what "starving Armenians" meant?' 'I knew the Armenians were massacred, starved to death, almost wiped out.' Jimmy made a broad X sign with his index finger. 'By the Turks. They don't fool around, those Turks. Like the whites in the Old South'" (p. 166).
The book Ambassador Morgenthau's Story got Balakian to ask his supervisor Jimmy about what any man on the street could have told him: The starving Armenians were part of pop culture, but Balakian simply didn't look for his people until he was inspired by the book from his parents' house to do so.
"'She underwent the treatment and by winter she was fine. And nothing like that ever happened again. No one ever mentioned this moment in your grandmother's life. I never heard her mention the Turks again. It was as if it never happened. We say in Armenian: When he past is behind you, keep it there'" (p. 180).
Balakian's grandmother's needs for her sanity's sake conflicted with the family's need to remember and talk about its past. The situation Aunt Gladys describes is almost one of her memories being pinned under her mother's mental instability following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It's ironic that, for the sake of a person who lived through the Genocide, the family had to stop talking about the Genocide-for later on, the Armenians touched by the Genocide would live on only in the thoughts of people remembering the Genocide and its victims.
"Aunt Gladys was talking as if she had unlocked some box in herself, and each thing she pulled out was hooked onto something else. 'Is that it?' My aunt looked at me quizzically. 'Of your memories?' (p. 183)
Balakian uses various metaphors throughout his memoirs to describe the nature of human memory. Earlier, he described poetry as a way of pulling out pent-up memories and depositing them as words on paper. His description of his Aunt's recollection here is similar, with the first of her memories teased out perhaps her time spent in Paris with Armenian family, and the rest being pulled out along once she begins talking. He goes into such depth about the nature of memory because his memoirs are, fundamentally, about his discovering and growing into his Armenian identity, which requires him to plumb both his own memory and those of others.
"I sat there looking at the waiters dressed in red and white, the carafes of wine on the tables, the beautiful color of the room. People eating and drinking and laughing. 'His friend said that it broke him. The shoes for which he had scrimped and saved all those years while he was bringing his family out of that miserable place. Those shoes which represented new hope in life. The damn evil of those Turks stealing those shoes.'"
Contrast with restaurant, like in the park with hot dogs reading Ambassador Morgenthau. That their appetites are lost is implied by the lack of talk about food, unlike every other family gathering at a table. The family has focused so critically on food in the past, as with all other nice things, and remained silent about Armenia's history by necessity, for they cannot eat with the memory of their starving ancestors in mind.
"Q. 1. Give the (a) name, (b) residence, and (c) occupation or business of each individual
A. 1.:(a) Nafina Hagop Chilinguirian (b)(Born Shekerlemedjian)
(c) (b) Ghuri St. Aleppo, Syria. (c) Tailoress
My mother saying: 'I don't care how long it takes, we're waiting in line until the tailor is done; you will not go out without a suit that fits. My mother made everything from scratch.' My grandmother's hands. Blotched. Streaked white. Raw-looking. They had sewn my torn trousers. They kneaded dough, flew like birds when she told her dreams. White-knuckled on her cane. Stirring the lokma batter. Clapping in the Little League stands. Nimble with a silver needle. Like wings in my mind the night she died."
Like Ambassador Morgenthau, like Ginsburg's poem Kaddish, even this government form awakens memories in Balakian that he forgot he had: His mom's Armenian pride. His grandmother's hands. He sees all of his memories of his grandmother in an entirely different light given the occupation typed onto this form.
"We the undersigned [...] solemnly affirm that [...] they are all killed by the Turks during our deportation from diarbekir, except Mrs. Nafina's husband who died of violent sufferings caused by the unhuman cruelties of the deporter gendarmes" (p. 201).
That Mrs. Nafina's husband is noted on a government form as dying of "violent sufferings" distinct from simply being killed is notable. It hints at more horrors like those described earlier without describing them exactly. Seeing this void on a form is, in a way, more terrible than knowing what was there.
"'This is not what poetry is for!' She was shouting now, and I saw Auntie Nona throw her a dagger look. 'What is poetry for?' 'You can't be circumstantial in poetry,' she said, her voice shrill. 'Aren't Dante and Homer circumstantial?' 'That was a long time ago.' Her voice was shaking. 'You can't have the circumstances of history in a poem?'" (p. 225)
Balakian has written this book almost as a rebuke to the position his Aunt Anna takes here. He uses poetic language to express the way his history affects him throughout the novel, in addition to writing formal verse. Balakian's stance is that poetry is a useful means of reflecting upon and recording historic memories.
"I was beginning to see the past as a worn rug. Some taut warp and weft here and there. Some good pile in spots where clear images appeared; then just frayed wool, then a big hole. So many were cut out of time, and the pain that ensued made it hard for anyone to talk about the past" (pp. 230-231).
The missing pieces of the rug of Balakian's family's past are people who were cut out by Turks in the Armenian Genocide. The pain of the rug being cut made it hard for them to talk about the past. Writing, he feels, is a way of mending the rug.
"As Mandelstam said, because totalitarian regimes always find poets the most dangerous of people, they are often the first to be executed. The Young Turk government began its plan of genocide by arresting a group of 250 prominent Armenian leaders and intellectuals on April 24, 1915. They were taken away in the middle of the night to small towns in the interior and executed. It haunts me to think about how a whole generation of writers was silenced in 1915, just as they were maturing and beginning to create something dynamic and new" (pp. 234-235).
Totalitarian regimes find poets dangerous because poetry is a way of recording the actions of a government, which is the first step to holding it accountable for its actions. The Young Turks knew that if they were going to build a lasting government on a platform of mass slaughter, they would have to suppress evidence of it or be known as monsters. In other words, merely exterminating a race is not enough; its culture must be purged, too, and so in genocide, the writers must be killed first.
"An Armenian physician in the Turkish army. To be scissored between the Hippocratic Oath and the knowledge that those you were saving might be committing genocide. To be an Armenian doctor in the Turkish army during World War I was to try to save Lieutenant Jelal so that he could return to the field to rob and kill Armenians. My grandfather had no choice. Either he complied with his military conscription or he was executed for treason. To save his family and himself, he served at Soma" (p. 241).
Here Balakian describes a horror from the Genocide unique to doctors like his own father. The Hippocratic Oath is, essentially, a commitment to give oneself up to the work of saving lives. The Turks abused, among other things, doctors bound by this oath, like they took advantage of anyone else. Balakian means to stir sentiment in the reader by illustrating one inhumane act among many by the Turkish government during the Genocide.
"My aunt chose those lines from Breton as the book epigraph to Surrealism: the Road to the Absolute, and in so doing stated her own therapeutic notion of poetry as a form of personal salvation in the wake of trauma, dispersion, and exile. Among other things, the Surrealist poets of France embodied for her the zenith of European culture; they were a bridge from her parents' Europe and the magical bells of Collonges to her present. But surely, one could love such an idea of poetry and also acknowledge history. How can one deny the cemetery of one's ancestors?" (p. 248)
Balakian is quizzical because something still escapes him: What makes Aunt Anna, despite her belief in poetry as therapy, so vehemently opposed to applying it to Armenia's wounds? The surrealist poets bridge parts of her life like Balakian feels other writers bridge parts of the Armenian narrative, but there is apparently something special to the Massacres' effect upon her that Balakian cannot yet grasp.
"Words like pieces of bone. I began to feel the presence of loss in a new way. What did it mean for a whole civilization to be expunged from the earth? What did it mean when a people who loved and worked and built a culture on the land where they had lived for three thousand years were destroyed?" (p. 253)
Throughout his memoirs, Balakian comes closer and closer to the raw reality of the Armenian Genocides, including the impact on the people's history. Each source, showing the story from another angle with different details, raises new questions in his mind.
"I wept as I typed out the words of my lost uncle. I felt his embrace, his beard on my face. Against odds, his words had reached me here in central New York near the end of the century" (p. 258)
Balakian weeps, for his uncle is alive in the words that have survived to reach him. He has personally touched a family member who almost died to the world, whose memory is preserved in one obscure book (The Case of Soghomon Tehlirian) that he barely found. Typing his uncle's words is, to Balakian, like saving him from a second, more permanent death.
"The hills are soft in central New York, but there is nothing quaint about the silver and white silos, the flaking red barns, and the congregations of black-faced white heifers. It's a terrain of hard economies, a landscape of work. Route 20 is a two-land highway, like old Route 66, and it runs four miles north of my house in Hamilton, cutting through towns and villages from Albany to Buffalo. Sagging Italianates, half
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