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Sylvie wanted to believe that misery could simply be replaced with happiness. Timewas a straight line, stretching out before you. If you could create a golden kind of time and lay itright beside the other time, the time of horror, Bad History could just recede into the distancewithout ever having to be resolved.--from TorporSet at the dawn of the New World Order, ChrisKraus's third novel, Torpor loops back to the beginning of the decade that was the basis of I LoveDick, her pseudo-confessional cult-classic debut. It's summer, 1991, post-MTV, pre-AOL. JeromeShafir and Sylvie Green, two former New Yorkers who can no longer afford an East Village apartment,set off on a journey across the entire former Soviet Bloc with the specious aim of adopting aRomanian orphan. Nirvana's on the radio everywhere, and wars are erupting acrossYugoslavia.Unhappily married to Jerome, a 53-year-old Columbia University professor who loathesacademe, Sylvie thinks only of happiness. At 35, she dreams of stuffed bears and wonders why theirlives lack the tremulous sincerity that pervades thirtysomething, that season's hot new TV show.There are only two things, Sylvie thinks, that will save them: a child of their own, and the successof The Anthropology of Unhappiness, her husband's long-postponed book on the Holocaust. But as theymove forward toward impoverished Romania, Jerome's memories of his father's extermination atAuschwitz and his own childhood survival impede them.Savagely ironic and deeply lyrical, Torporexplores the swirling mix of nationalisms, capital flows and negative entropy that define thepresent, haunted by the persistence of historical memory. Written in the third person, it is hermost personal novel to date.