Joe's Reviews > The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
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Jul 12, 11

bookshelves: by-the-ladies, contemporary-fiction, 2011
Read from April 06 to June 01, 2011

"He rolled up the sleeve of his cassock and patted the inside of his arm, and I shrugged and pointed to the chair. He sat down, and I pushed the cuff over his fist. He had a thin, young-looking face. Later on, I would find out from Nada that he had been the kind of boy who caught bumblebees in jars and then harnessed them carefully with film from cassette tapes, so that it was not uncommon to see him walking down the main road with dozens of them rising around him like tiny, insane balloons while the film flashed wildly in the sun." [135]

“Suddenness?” I say. “Suddenness,” he says to me. “His life, as he is living it—well, and with love, with friends—and then suddenness. Believe me, Doctor, if your life ends in suddenness you will be glad it did, and if it does not you will wish it had. You will want suddenness, Doctor.” “Not me,” I say. “I do not do things, as you say, suddenly. I prepare, I think, I explain.” “Yes,” he says. “And those things you can do reasonably well for everything—but not this.” And he is pointing into the cup, and I think, yes, he is here for me, too. “Suddenness,” he says. “You do not prepare, you do not explain, you do not apologize. Suddenly, you go. And with you, you take all contemplation, all consideration of your own departure. All the suffering that would have come from knowing comes after you are gone, and you are not a part of it.” He is looking at me, and I am looking at him, and the waiter comes with the check. The waiter must think something very terrible and private is going on, because he leaves very quickly. “Why are you crying, Doctor?” the deathless man says. I wipe my eyes and tell him I hadn’t realized I was. “There is going to be a lot of suddenness, Doctor, over the next few years,” says Gavran Gailé. “They are going to be long, long years—you can have no doubt about that. But those years will pass, eventually they will end. So you must tell me why you came to Sarobor, Doctor, where you take a risk every minute you sit here, even though you know that one day this war will end?” “This war never ends,” I say. “It was there when I was a child and it will be here for my children’s children. I came to Sarobor because I want to see it again before it dies, because I do not want it to go from me, like you say, in suddenness.” [301]

"There is a huge tree just outside my grandfather’s village on the bank of the stream that leads down from the Galinica River. In winter, the red boughs arch up from the trunk, bare as hip bones, curving like hands clasped in prayer. The tree stands near the fence where the braided cornfields begin, and Marko Parović tells me the people of Galina avoid it at all costs; its branches, he says, cast a net in which souls are caught as they rise to heaven, and the ravens that roost there pick the souls out of the bark like worms." [321]


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