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Radiant Days

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  38 reviews
During the last days of the Balkan War in the summer of 1995, Anthony, a hapless American questioning the dot-com values that allow him to live a pampered existence in San Francisco, agrees to join Gisela, a beauty he barely knows, in a search for her son, lost in a Hungarian orphanage. In Budapest they meet Marsh, a brilliant but frustrated British war correspondent. Anth ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 28th 2006 by Counterpoint
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Average rating 3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  111 ratings  ·  38 reviews

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Jason Pettus
Jul 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

You know what really bugs me about arts publications sometimes? I'll tell you what really bugs me about arts publications sometimes; that after that one time they'll give some great, thoughtful, wonderful, exciting recommendation to a book or movie or whatever, they never have the excuse to go back an
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
I really kind of hate this book. I can honestly say I have never hated a main character/narrator more than I hate Anthony. Much of the novel left me with a dirty, deeply uncomfortable feeling, like a roach was crawling up my spine. So why two stars instead of one? Because Marsh was an interesting character, the one I will remember from the book (I hope to expunge the others from mind as quickly as possible-I am seriously in need of some metaphorical brain-bleach) and the author made some powerfu ...more
May 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I am Hungarian and I met Michael in Budapest in 1993 when he was living there and collecting impressions. Then I knew nothing of him until I found his book on-line recently. So reading Radiant Days, especially it being related to the Hungarian experience, was such a treat!

His incredibly sharp eye for detail and great sense for absurdity and irony totally shine throughout this book. It is extremely well-written, the comical is so funny and the sad is so sad, and the observations and events someho
Sep 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction

From its opening at an expatriates' party in Budapest to its bittersweet ending, "Radiant Days" is an admirable first novel, immersing the reader in the pinballing life of a California man who is fleeing the end of a relationship and gets both more and less than he bargained for.

After a beautiful Hungarian bartender persuades the jilted Anthony Sinclair to go to Budapest with her, he convinces himself that he's in love with her, even though she quickly lets him know how willing she is to manipul
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: expat travelers, frat boys
If you grew up on the fiction of Fitzgerald and Hemingway, this book should appeal to you. It's obsessed with glamor and the fast-life, like Fitzgerald's work, and takes the reader into a foreign war zone, like Hemingway's. But while its roots are in the past, the fruit of this novel are in the present day. (Am I sounding too much like I'm writing for the New York Times Book review? Forgive me.) What I'm trying to say is, the book's premise is rather familiar -- a mysterious and exotic woman lur ...more
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like surprises
I admit it: I thought I knew what the book held in store for me based on the first few pages. Boy was I wrong. Even worse, I made my assumption based on a kneejerk appraisal of the narrator, Anthony, a dot-com era ex-pat in Budapest. But as I continued reading the book kept getting darker and darker and the protagonist's behavior kept diverging from what I expected him to do. At one point I was so startled I let out a little shout, prompting my wife to ask me what was the matter. I didn't have a ...more
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Serious readers of literary fiction
For a first novel, Radiant Days is a hell of an accomplishment. Michael Fitzgerald is a writer of both seriousness and serious talent. He deserves to be read.

On the back cover there is reference to Fitzgerald's MFA; but I'm overjoyed to report that Fitzgerald's work shows almost none of the scars of an MFA program. There's very little of the pathological cleverness, smug zaniness and "look at me I'm writing!" silliness that these programs seem to breed. Too often, the letters 'MFA' promise littl
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Radiant Days is thick with detail, angst, desperation, ennui, and culture shock. The story is set in post-soviet Budapest where expats live cheaply and spout philosophy and political theory without doing much else. Our hero accompanies a Gisela to Hungary and finds he might be there under false pretenses. As the lies and truth are revealed they don't seem to mean much to Anthony - he is interested only in his modest goals of appearing cool and screwing Gisela. The story moves to the Balkans (dur ...more
Dec 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I find myself echoing the review of the esteemed Jim Ruland. I thought I knew pretty much how this book would go after a few pages, but it turned into something else again, something really fine. I was particularly impressed with the way FitzGerald took a familiar story (dude following his dick, more or less), moved it into a war zone, and came up with a fine novel that goes a long way toward explaining why people across the world resent Americans abroad. The prose style is lucid, the author tak ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
what happens when an american educated "successful" web developer suddenly sheds his ennui, runs off to Hungary and former Yugoslavia with a beautiful but deceitful women, dabbles in nefarious "adoptions", then "wanders" down into the croat, serb, bosian stew of death? education of a different story, WITH MAPS, and accompanying real consequences to moral and "lifestyle" decisions. great novel for american times in the early 21st century.
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Hey listen, this is a little awkward, since Michael's one of my Goodreads friends here and I met him briefly when he read from the book at Vermin. So I sort of feel like I'm introducing him at a banquet, or I'm toasting him at his wedding. Here. I am figuratively clamping my hand on his shoulder in a signal that I'm acknowledging him standing right by me as I talk about his work.

The book is really, really powerful. I'm not just saying that because Michael's right here, fidgeting. The pages move
Feb 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grown ups
Recommended to Ian by: Michael Fitzgerald
I read this book on the recommendation of the author after I expressed a great liking for the French author Michel Houellebecq on this site.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read and rattled through it in a few days. It paints a bleak picture of the modern human condition and the direction western society appears to be taking. The characters are engaging for all their faults and the I liked the setting of Budapest and Croatia (just after the war of the mid 90s). The author paints a wonderful contrast bet
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ex-pats, studiers abroad, europhiles
Strong book, the first half left me feeling uplifted and energized, while also feeling a bit of regret. I thought my study abroad times were a little rock n' roll. I think I probably should have headed east from Holland to be able to really live it up...I suddenly feel so docile and tame.

After the dark turn "down the rabbit hole" as the cover blurb says, I found myself relating a little less to the characters with each turning page. I think this goes along with the slow unraveling of Anthony and
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I have been trying to think about the best way to express my great affection for Radiant Days by Michael FitzGerald, but it all seems cliche. You know the story in so many ways, its a coming of age tale, a road trip and a love story, rife with drugs and sex, a debut novel done as males tend to do them, and yet it's so rich and audacious, painful and fresh, such a page-turner, that none of that matters. Its more like a reboot or a reinvention, but here's the thing, it also has substance and depth ...more
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
An excellent book, gripping, informative, surprising and quite unlike what I expected; a sort of unholy marriage between Hemingway and Brett Easton Ellis, with a startlingly unloveable - and extremely credible - hero. It's been on my to-read shelf for ages, and I only wish I'd got to it sooner.
Jul 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mylibrary
Fitzgerald infuses the complexities of a wonderlust world with a radiant prose style. Full of wisdom and conscience—and exacting of the all too endemic contemporary compromise.
Jan 02, 2008 rated it liked it
So...I was having a discussion with someone about how you couldn't give a book by a friend anything less than 4 stars because it would make the author cry and/or hate you. I don't agree; 3 stars means "I liked it"! This is a good thing! Michael Fitzgerald and I have recently become acquainted on this site, and so it's weird to know that he'll read this review. So let me just get this out of the way: Hi, Michael! I liked your book!

Here's my official review:

Radiant Days is a compelling story about
Xujun Eberlein
Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I see a different side of the book, i.e., about how people emerge from situations and relationships. The protagonist, lacking any strong self identity, is part of this emergence, but I was much more attracted by his observations of others than his own development. Almost every character is morally ambiguous, neither clearly good nor bad. It is only the actions we can judge and the power of the book is to make us recognize the difficulty of actually making such judgments.

The story itself is both
Feb 11, 2012 rated it liked it
The characters in this book were definitely memorable - Anthony ... dude I kept hoping you would get a clue; Gisela - selfish, skanky biatchhh; and Marsh, a serious dude who acts like he's not serious. The writing was well done and the imagery vivid - the contrast between the expats & the locals was fierce. But I just didn't get why Gisela went to Hungary in the 1st place; I wish there was more closure on this. And what happened to Marsh was so abrupt ... but I guess that's how these things happ ...more
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
I really enjoyed this book. Although the main character wasn't someone I'd want to hang out with in real life, I enjoyed reading about what happened to him. The book also paints a fairly true-to-life picture of expat communities, in my opinion.
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
It's utterly fantastic.
Vestal McIntyre
This cringe-making journey of a young man in Eastern Europe takes several unexpected turns, and becomes a real adventure.
Jul 17, 2007 marked it as to-read
This guy friended me to get me to notice his book and it worked, it looks really interesting.
Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary
5 stars 'cause I love it already.
Mar 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I hated every page of this book. However, certain scenes will never leave my mind. If you want to read about an idiot American male, obsessed with sex and masterbation, traveling in foreign countries, this is your book.
Katherine Furman
Jul 26, 2007 rated it liked it
I was looking around for a book to read by a Hungarian (trace my roots kind of thing) when this author and I became goodreads friends. As it turns out, his book mainly takes place in Hungary. Close enough!

Radiant Days was a completely engaging book. Though it's not an action book, it is still a page turner. The story was an Eastern European adventure dealing with ex pats, war, bars, women, orphans, and one guy's travels through it all while over the safety net of his parents' American dollars.
Jan 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: shelve-it
Give the kids from "Less than Zero" 10 years & send them to the Balkans. Americas Gen X are clueless, soulless, just wanna get laid & do some drugs. Well, maybe (I think this point has been made a time or two before by Bret Easton Ellis & Douglas Coupland).

This is an ambitious novel & it isn't going to give you the warm fuzzies about America or Americans (esp. abroad). I tired of Anthony probably more quickly than the author would have liked. Of course you are not supposed the like Anthony, he h
Tyler Mcmahon
Dec 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic novel. The very act of placing a dot-com era San-Franciscan in the middle of the Yugoslav wars is as hilarious as it is tragic, a move that isn't just brilliant, but also courageous and important. But the best part of this book is the narrator. In all of his selfishness and restlessness, he's truer to life than most other characters in contemporary literature. Anyone offended by his observations hasn't looked deep enough within their own desires. The world that Fitzgerald cre ...more
May 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
So, this book is a commentary on the Serbian/Croatian conflict in the 1990s. It examines the American psyche by thrusting a stereotypical American young man into the complexities of an emotional and historically-backed war. I thought there were interesting ideas about America's sense of history and importance and the way that we perceive the rest of the world. I also thought it was interesting to see how we are perceived by the rest of the world. In the end those ideas are extremely complicated. ...more
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Michael A. FitzGerald is the author of Radiant Days . The story tracks a dissolving love triangle between a hapless American, a beautiful Hungarian junkie, and a young British journalist during the last days of the Balkan War. Critics have called the writing "beautiful and lucid" and said the book "flawlessly and astutely mirrors the ennui and confusion of this generation."

FitzGerald was raised

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