Local writer Miklos (Mike) Sajben was born in Hungary in 1931. "World War II affected us much like everybody else. We experienced shortages of almost everything and had the privilege of being bombed by both Americans and Germans." Mike escaped to the US in 1956, got his Ph.D. from MIT, became a citizen, and married an American named Mary.
His observations about growing up in Hungary and living in the US are captured in more than three dozen vignettes, now published as "Floating In Air: And Other Stories" ($20.49 in paperback from lulu.com). The author is scheduled for a book signing at Lyon Books in Chico in the near future; check the website (lyonbooks.com) for the latest news.
The title piece takes the author to the Valley Forge airport near Philadelphia for a try at parachute jumping. "The chute was supposed to open almost immediately, but nothing happened for a long long time. Thoughts of a future career as a pancake flashed through my mind."
In "Cat Calamity" Sajben remembers being a kid in Hungary during wartime watching his father get the mice out of the family's corn bin. Once the corn was removed what remained were "lots and lots of mice, maybe as many as a hundred, squeaking and running around on the solid bottom of the crate, giving the impression of a grey, velvety, shimmering carpet."
So Dad brings in Uncle Laszlo's cat, Max, and tosses him into the bin. "Max was frozen rigid in the stance he landed in. His tail stood straight up like a candlestick. He looked like a porcupine, his hair sticking out in all directions as if he were the subject of a high-voltage science experiment. ... Max let out a primal scream, bounded out of the box in a single jump and flew out of the barn." He "never caught a mouse again."
There are reflections on understanding women (don't try), eating pig intestines (yum!), and more, along with some salty language here and there. Speaking of language, while Hungarian "happily hums along with a single form of past tense ... English sports six of them. ... Why, oh why can't I deal with my pasts?" But if these "pasts" are any indication, Mike Sajben has a bright future.