The New Life

Where did I leave off the last time I read to you from Orhan Pamuk’s book, The New Life? 

We’re heading into chapter four and the main character is still nameless. He had a premonition that something was about to happen. The bus crashed into a cement truck. 

“One end of this arid and limitless garden was the asphalt highway that now lay covered with shards of glass, the other end a realm from which there was no return. I proceeded fearlessly into the velvet night, convinced that this was the halcyon land which had for weeks wafted balmy as paradise in my imagination.”

Halcyon? I like that word. I have to figure out how to incorporate it into my writing vocabulary.

Stepping away from the death and destruction, he imagined himself as being new or someone who hadn’t seen the stars for a long time. Time and silence are the only things on his mind. “Time is three-dimensional silence, The book said.”

For those of you who have not read previous blogs about the book, The New Life, the book I am reading, it is about a twenty-two year old who had discovered a powerful book and love; these two things propel him to start riding buses. Day after day, without knowing where or why, he gets on and off buses. And then the crash occurs.

Blood trickling from his forehead is a sign that he is alive and all of his senses come to the forefront of his mind. This is the scene he returns to:

“Hapless passengers who were still alive and others who would not stay alive much longer were coming out of the rear exit, cautiously as if stepping on the surface of a strange planet. Minn, Mom, you’re still in there, but I got out. Mom, Mom, blood, blood is filling my pockets like coins.”

He goes on to wish he could talk to these people like the “avuncular man crawling along the ground, his hat on his head, a plastic bag in his hand.”

Plastic bags seem to play an integral role in this story.

He watches a soldier, “the fastidious soldier who was bent over carefully examining the rip in his trousers.”

He watches an old lady talking to God. He desperately wants to “impart the significance of this unique and impeccable time to the impeccable time to the virulent insurance agent who was counting the stars.”

He returns to his seat, side stepping the dead driver who is still holding a bottle. Not only is the bus engine still running, but the movie is still playing. The anticipated kiss happens on screen.

He and the other “prudent” survivors, along with the dead, are transported. He gets stitches in his knee and head, wondering if the nurse is married to someone working in Germany. Why Germany? I don’t even know where the bus accident happened. 

Șairinyer is in Turkey. It seems very appropriate that the anonymous young man lands in the New Light Hotel. When not sleeping, which is most of the time, he continues to people watch. “Distracted old men hang out near the Atatűrk Statue.”


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