AT THE END of Blind Date, Jerzy Kosinski presents George Levanter, his hero, and a friend of his wife in conversation: "You are survivor, George. The war. The Ruskies. Parking cars. You've survived it all. And look at you now." He paused, as if to let the implication sink in. 'Married to Mary Jane, the nicest girl there is, who also happens to be one of the richest widows in America, with the most powerful friends around.' 'Mary-Jane and I met on a blind date,' said Levanter. 'Sure you did, George,' he agreed quickly, 'But have all your survivals begunon blind dates?'"
George Levanter is a Russian emigre to America, where he builds his new home. He is never able to forget his roots, but he plays with life, takes risks, tries to understand the ununderstandable, takes and gives, sets traps and escapes from those set for him by others. From adventure to adventure he tries to survive with meaning and grace, never completely sure that he has managed. Levanter is a storyteller, the novel is made up of his stories - some are beautiful, or shocking and beautiful.
In Kosinski's stories, just as in Dostoevski, whores are the only ones who are able to scorn all the money in a world where gold means so much. They sell themselves, if it comes down to that, but as acts of free will. As in Kosinski's other books, there is a lot of sex in the stories of George Levanter (and Kosinski plays an old writer's game with hints and bridges between the hero and the author). Sex is for Kosinski not only a mysterious, never fully discovered part opened door to human nature, to human character. THough sex man reveals the truth of life is about, and, at the same time, that with every other man or woman he is a different being. So, as in an old Greek legend that originally men and women can re-create a lost unity, never the same, ever various. For Kosinski, people discover in sex their courage as well as their fears, their "normalities" and "abnormalities," because - perhaps long before the beginning - in every male is an embryo of a female, and the other way around. Sex is the most reliable open door to the human soul, says Kosinski;through sex a person can most reliably reveal his image to himself, as well as to others.
In his new book, Kosinski proves that he is a skillful, full-blooded, fascinating storyteller. You can object that he is a nihilist, fatalist, biologist, existentialist, and God knows what else; you can compare him to Malaparte, Kafka, Goya, and who knows to whom, but he is definitely an original, authentic, unique voice.Deep below his stories there is an important meaning and a sincere message about the frightful world we are living in.His questions are the old, but never satisfactorily answered questions: What is man? What is our life really about? What to do in this world where one must be indifferent to avoid one shock after the other? In stressing these questions of human consciousness (as Adolf Hitler put it, "a Jewish invention, which cripples the human being just as well as circumcision cripples his body"), Kosinski is a very Jewish writer reminding us in almost every story in Blind Date that human invention is in jeopardy.
Since The Painted Bird, about a lost child in the cruelest parts and times of our world, Kosinski has been like a volcano erupting for 11 years.
What if a catastrophe like the sinking of Atlantis would occur and these six books were the only testimony for future people, the only documents of our times? In Blind Date we can trace in many stories the author's quest for justice in the face of the blind irony which takes the best people to the prisons, to torture, to the loss of their lives. "Ideas don't perish in prison cells," Levanter says, "People do."
Levanter includes in his adventures his private, never publicly confessed war with injustice which is ever-present because the world got accustomed to it. levanter never forgets what was unjust in his life, what he has witnessed; and neither does the author. he reminds us painfully and disturbingly of the needs for justice.
Learning from the best writing of every era, Kosinsiki develops his own style and technique, trying not to get lost in a limitless and chaotic jungle without beginning, middle and end. His style is in harmony with his need to express new things about our life and the world we do live in, to express the inexpressible. Sometimes his way of writing and the structure of his book reminds one of a steam engine where energy grows to the point where it either explodes or moves forward. Accumulating stories of different, sometimes ambiguous meaning, giving to himself as well as to the reader the same chance for intrepretation, he traces the truth in the deepest corners of our outdoor and indoor lives, of our outer apperance and our inner reality.
Many of the stories in Blind Date have three parts, as there are three dimensions of time: the present, the past and the future. Or, let us say, all dimensions of literary time, so that for every story in the present, we have another story about what preceded, which reveals the motives of the first, and then the story of the future, or what happened after - what was the result of the original motives and of the present. It works perfectly and beautifully.
Each new book by Kosinski raises a question: Where is he going to go from here? Every writer is dead with his latest book, because he gave all his blood, all his life into it, and he must be born again. Kosinski solves these literary problems in his own way, as far as we can judge from Blind Date . He moves the borderline of writing to more remote, still invisible and untouchable poles, in cold and in darkness. Doing so, he enlarges the borders of the bearable.
As readers we have several reasons to be grateful to him. As writers we have from him many things to learn.