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Burying the Typewriter: A Memoir

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  453 ratings  ·  92 reviews
Winner of the Bakeless Prize for Nonfiction, a childhood memoir of political oppression and persecution during Romania's Ceausescu years

Carmen Bugan grew up amid the bounty of the Romanian countryside on her grandparent's farm where food and laughter were plentiful. But eventually her father's behavior was too disturbing to ignore. He wept when listening to Radio Free Euro
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 3rd 2012 by Graywolf Press (first published January 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Jun 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history, drama
Reading this book it is easy to see that the author is more used to writing poetry than prose. The first section of the biography is outstandingly lyrical in it’s descriptions of a Romanian childhood. The story takes a darker turn as Carmen grows older and more aware of the activities of her parents, especially of her father. It is unusual to read about resistance activities through the eyes of a child, and the book really gives a sense of the total lack of innocence caused by the events that fo ...more
May 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book about a terrible subject: life in a police state. The police state that Carmen Bugan had to endure was Ceausescu's Romania.

The author was brought up in a small town or village in rural Romania. She described her idyllic childhood beautifully, as if through the eyes of a child. The idyll comes to an end when her father is arrested for demonstrating against the state. He is imprisoned, and the family is closely watched by members of Romania's 'secret' police, the Securitat
Joanne Hale
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
amazing, beautiful, haunting. a biographical testimony about life in communist Budapest and surviving torture after torture from a malicious regime.

let me explain something first, this book was entirely engaging and pulled me in tight, that from the moment i started it, i could not put it down. i read this book in a matter of 3 days. if i didnt have children to watch, feed or clean, it would have pulled me in the long haul of the night, a worth while long haul of the night.

carmen is a wonderful
Jul 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-gave-away
I won this from the Goodreads giveaway.

This book is actually a well written book, but I found it to be a rather slow read that didn't engage my interest. I was really excited to get it after reading the description of the book but in the end I just didn't enjoy it much at all. I think other people may enjoy it a lot more than I did, but I found myself forcing myself to read it through to the ending because it was one of the giveaway books and I had to review it.

Overall, other readers may really
Helen Stanton
Slightly disappointed by this. Obviously the account of life in communist Romania was fascinating but I found her writing style a little tedious
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I read this book after a peaceful walking pilgrimage in Romania in the summer of 2018. It was hard to imagine the terrible times of starvation, the betrayal of friends, the surveillance of families during the time of Communism under Nicolae Ceausescu (1968-1989). The author tells of her idyllic years raised in the Romanian countryside that become destroyed by the controls and restrictions of communism. Her father, a dissident, had typed anti-government pamphlets and had to bury the typewriter to ...more
Natalie Turner
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recently I’ve started attending a book group run by my local Waterstones in an effort to read a wider variety of books and be a bit less of a “book snob”. Admittedly I’ve only attended one of the last three sessions but at least I’ve kept up with the reading and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the wide choice of books covered. So far I’ve been introduced to a fictional Oscar Wilde turned Sherlock Holmes and this little gem - Burying the Typewriter: Childhood Under the Eye of the Secret Police ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-non-fiction
*Book Club
*Will reread and recommend.

I didn't expect to be teary as I read this book but towards the end of the book, I did. I think I can identified on how hard it was to say goodbye to one's country, one's memory of home and to leave in such a circumstance and one's resignation on accepting: it is what it is. This author is born to write, her prose and how brilliantly she woven words into a beautiful tapestry like the one hanging on her family living room back in Romania. I don't know much abo
Jul 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wow, that's some story! ...more
Donna Wessel Walker
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent description of the author's life as rhe child of dissidents in Romania under Ceausescu. She maintains the perspective of her childhood self and so gives the sense of what price she paid as well as the price her parents paid for their activities. ...more
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: non-fiction readers, memoir readers, nostalgia readers
Recommended to Therese by: book club
Read for CLPL "Real World Reads" non-fiction book club for July 2013. I read it early because July might be a very busy month.

I really enjoyed this book! It is a memoir by Carmen Bugan about her time growing up as a child in Romania during the Ceausescu regime. If you did not know that she wrote poetry, you could guess it once you start reading the book. She does not really write as an adult looking back with mature observations, but writes the memoir in a way that makes you feel the same emotio
Jul 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I won this book from the First Reads giveaway. Thanks!
Burying the Typewriter was not what I expected. I assumed it would be faster paced, with more drama and intrigue. It turned out to be more of a stylistic look at the author's childhood. It was a beautiful read.
There were several people that stood out apart from Bugan herself. I loved the foul-mouthed grandmother, the priest who "unknowingly" destroyed some equipment the government was using to spy on the family, and Bombonica, the protective
Jul 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads, memoir
I received an ARC of this book from firstreads. I think the writing is top-notch, but I must confess that I was bored for almost the first half of the memoir. I tried to enjoy the bits of Romanian culture, but I had to force myself to return to it after setting it down repeatedly in favor of fiction. Finally, when Carmen's father buried the typewriter almost halfway into the book the conflict was unleashed and I was interested. I don't think I needed the tidbits from the author's life before she ...more
Apr 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
Beautiful treasure of a book. The writing was simple and clean yet drew so many pictures. No word was wasted. Not only could I see what was being described but I could smell and taste and hear it too like the fried potatoes, prison chains, the gardens... All the characters came to life for me. Both the glorious bounty of everything good before and the suffering after were so well captured by the "child" writing the story. And evermore, I am sure, when things are difficult I will tell myself: "Mî ...more
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
What a great book from the Goodreads giveaways! It's an engrossing, evocative memoir about growing up in an oppressive country, but only realizing it as such as one grows older. Bugan's crisp explorations into her coming to a sort of peace with her father's political actions, which affected her and the family in such an unexpected-to-him way, is what's so ultimately compelling about this memoir. ...more
Susan Novicki
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book. Did not enjoy the writing. A little bit choppy but a great story. You don't often hear about a dissident's family in a communist dictatorship and how they deal with difficult situations while the dissident is in prison. Fascinating story. ...more
Eva Hnizdo
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The portrait of Ceausescu Romania was shocking, even for me growing up in a communist country. Well written true story of what it means to be a daughter of dissidents.
John Funnell
Jul 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If 6 stars were possible!!!!

It is fitting that I finish this book on what would have been my late Grandfather’s birthday.

Romanian born (Braila) he fled the country before communism took hold. Married a Welsh woman and settled in London where I eventually came into being in 1983.

He had a massive part to play in my upbringing and the Romanian culture depicted in this wonderful book echoes in my heart. The family life, the food, the humour - each page was like speaking to my dear grandfather agai
Claudia  -
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a moving memoir of growing up in socialist Romania in the spotlight of the Securitate, the Romanian secret police.

The book starts describing an idyllic life in a small village seen through a child’s eye, days full of fun and stories, Carmen and her sister being looked after by their beloved grandmother among the plenty of their farm.
As she gets older, Carmen becomes more and more aware of the difficulties, food shortages and power cuts the villagers face and the growing frustration of h
Martin Budd
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read. Life under the totalitarian regime of the Ceausescu's in Romania.
As a boy I remember the visit by the Ceausescu's on a State visit to the U.K, our poor Queen having to tolerate them with all due pomp and ceremony. She let it be known (something highly unusual for Her Majesty) that She found them appalling - at one point She even hid behind a tree as She heard them walking in the palace garden. Her servants even having to hide the silver that they kept trying to purloin.
One take a
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A beautifully rendered book of both turmoil and childhood joy. I found the first many chapters about her early childhood years - when she was a rambunctious child that couldn’t even yet imagine the darkness to befall her family - those chapters were given much time and pagination, creating an almost idyllic framing to the story. Of course, we are increasingly hit with the signs of governmental control as the book continues, and as the author’s age reaches into the double digits, the book skates ...more
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romania
I was put off initially by the folkloric descriptions, but as I got deeper into the book, I understood that this was meant to present the idyllic before to the dystopic after. As a former Romanian refugee, I saw some things that matched my family's experiences and others that were more horrifying.

A racist I know recently told me that refugees should just toughen up and fight injustice in their countries instead of coming to his country (as if white people in North America can say they legitimat
Carmen Bugan, a poet and child of Romanian dissidents, writes about her childhood and how her family ended up leaving Romania while it was still ruled by Ceauşescu.

I was a bit dissatisfied because her childhood sounded pretty ideal in the early years and we never find out how her parents ended up resisting the communist regime or why. I found the same lack of description in a documentary about Ceauşescu's last few years. How did everything lead up to them starving the people and oppressing them
Oct 03, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting memoir by the daughter of a Romanian dissident. While we admire and champion those who dare to speak up against the injustices of a Communist regime, there is seldom a thought about their family. They are the subjects of hardship and rejection because of decisions that were not their own. Here the author tries to come to grips with her conflicting feelings for a loving father she remembers from her early years and the snubs, judgments and surveillance the family endures after her ...more
Elda Mengisto
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book! When describing her childhood and adolescence, Carmen uses somewhat sentimental language, especially when describing her little garden and family. It does get darker, but the overall vibe is like a fairytale of sorts.

There's a lot on departing and leaving, which Carmen also describes beautifully. Simultaneously, I would've liked a longer book...
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
Excellent thought-provoking book. The beginning describes an idyllic rural childhood but once the security services get involved because of the author's father's political activities it becomes extremely sinister. Whole communities living in fear and informing on each other is beyond my comprehension but it is well described. The family lived through hell but came through it all - amazing. ...more
Jun 06, 2021 rated it liked it
I have to admit I expected more from someone with a doctorate in literature. The style feels like a cross between a child's voice (deliberate) and a foreigner's voice (inevitable). The story feels inconsistent, with descriptions of life in a harsh regime along side happy childhood memories. I understand that this may all be intentional but it felt muddled to me. A straight story from an adult's perspective would have interested me more. ...more
Aug 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It took me long long time to finish this one, no nothing wrong with the book, I just felt emotionally drained while the people in book were going through misery. That I had to keep it down for a month or so, but I started again because doesn’t made their life easier, and also I need a Closure! I know it sounds like a relationship.
And this is what good writer does. They make you feel, they make you stand in their shoes, and next second you are in Romanian village, living under constant surveilla
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Devoured this memoir.
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Dr. Carmen Bugan, a George Orwell Prize Fellow, is a prize-winning writer based in Long Island, NY. She was born in Romania and has lived in England, Ireland, and France. Educated at the University of Michigan and Balliol College, Oxford University, UK, with a PhD in English Literature, she is the author of four collections of poems (the most recent one a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation), ...more

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