Sugar Mountain by Eglė Juodvalkė
ISBN: 978-0-9970771-9-3 | Soft Cover | 283 pages
About the Book:
Diabetes for fifty years, two pancreas transplants, three kidney transplants, and a major heart operation have been the obstacles. Still, life is lived. Authenticity and veracity are elements of a drama of Shakespearean proportions. She pursues a career in acting and hitchhikes through Europe from Stratford-on-Avon to Dubrovnik. She does not search for El Dorado but explores it. This is a modern tale of a Lithuanian woman’s sense and sensibility in Lithuanian colored by American pentimento. The story is made up of Greek islands surrounded by the azure blue of the Aegean Sea, giraffes and elephants in full eye contact in Africa’s savanahs, a wedding in the Mairie du 11e arrondissement in Paris with a trail of smoked duck bones washed with Margaux and leading to the atelier at Pont du Sèvres. She sees the fall of communism at first hand and explores the world from the Devil’s Nose in the Ecuadorian Andes to the Great Wall of China to Melbourne and Cape Town. Blood drawings alternate with Dorothy Sayers’s mysteries, and heart, pulse, lung and blood pressure monitors intermingle with Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. The warrior fights what is visible and tangible, as well as what is unseen, invisible, or lost among the stars.
This is a cloak-and-dagger saga. Adversaries are a woman and diabetes. She watches the fall of communism up close. Her adventures take the reader into the African jungle, Australia and inside an American immigrant life like a dream dreamt without drugs. Failures and setbacks wrestle with the taste of wine, which in the biblical sense turns either to vinegar or honey from Lithuanian forests that become the land “…where the buffalo roam…” The narrative shames those who take freedom for granted, not those worthy of our undying regard, like the fighters who opposed Stalin till his and their end. Her spirit floats above the brutality of the captive mind. Could there be a more meaningful victory than this never-ending story?
Whoever has two pairs of shoes should sell one and buy this book.
About the Author:
Born of Lithuanian parents, Ona Norkutė and Antanas Juodvalkis, in 1950 in East Chicago, Indiana, Eglė Juodvalkė received her B.A. from the University of Chicago. While working on her master’s degree at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, she was offered a job by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Inc., initially in New York City then in Munich, Germany, where she worked for 20 years and left RFE/RL as a Senior Correspondent of the Lithuanian Service. She covered the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the rebirth of the Baltic States. One of her volumes of poetry, Veidrodis ir Tuštuma/The Mirror and the Void, was presented at the Frankfurt International Book Fair in 2002. Writing mostly in Lithuanian, she is the author of the autobiography Sugar Mountain that became a literary event. Since the year 2000, her Biography appears in Marquis Who’s Who in the World and Marquis Who’s Who in America. She and her husband Henryk Skwarczyski, live in La Grange, a suburb of Chicago, and she spends much time in Vilnius.