Buying on Time by Antanas SileikaBuying on Time by Antanas Sileika

Buying on Time

byAntanas Sileika

Paperback | March 15, 1997

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The anecdotes, extended scenes and burgeoning imagination that make up these stories are tightly composed and sharply focused. The book manages to be both harsh and sympathetic. It welds humour, tragedy and the personal embarrassments we all live through in a colourful and memorable way.

Antanas Sileika is a freelance broadcaster and magazine and newspaper writer as well as a fiction writer. His work has appeared on CBC radio and in publications from Saturday Night to the Globe and Mail. His fourth novel,Underground, a love story set in the underground resistance to the Soviet Union in the forties, will appear in the ...
Title:Buying on TimeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 8.72 × 5.55 × 0.77 inPublished:March 15, 1997Publisher:Porcupine's Quill

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889841861

ISBN - 13:9780889841864

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book This collection of short stories deftly balances humor with earnest observations on the drama and high emotion of family life. Engrossing, moving, and very funny. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2004-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I laughed 'til I cried! I grew up in Weston during the fifties and sixties and this book brought back a flood of memories. The author has succeeded in writing both a funny and poignant story of acceptance and family. Buy this book!
Date published: 2002-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from heartwarming and funny Wonderful warm, funny and sometimes poignant stuff about growing up in an immigrant family in Toronto in the fifties/sixties. Highly recommended.
Date published: 1999-11-28

From the Author

I have a good friend who needles me about everything I write. Each time he reads one of my magazine or newspaper pieces, he says, `You just made it all up.' Whenever he reads one of my stories, he says, `That's not fiction. You're writing autobiography.'If only it were that simple.This collection of linked stories is about a DP family in the town of Weston in the 1950's and later, a time when the place was being swallowed up by Toronto. I am the youngest of three boys of a DP family that happened to live in Weston at the same time. Yet this collection is not an autobiography.I can almost hear my friend snorting in laughter at this denial. `He doesn't want to take the heat,' he might say. I could point out that some of the stories take place in a time before I was born, but that probably wouldn't convince him either.I certainly did poach on what I grew up with, but what I stole was not what a reader might think. I wanted to grasp what a certain time felt like. Early suburban life was never ironic for those of us who grew up through it. We honestly thought that we were living in a new, better world, especially those of us who had WW II behind us, even if only through the stories of our parents. The fifties were never `Happy Days' or `Ozzie and Harriet,' or even `Father Knows Best.' They were a refuge from the horror, death, and dislocation of the war.As we children of the fifties grew older, we looked back on that generation of parents as smug at worst, and deluded at best. This willful amnesia has painted the era as mostly ridiculous, with a dark smudge for the McCarthy circus. It was never as simple as that.Nobody celebrated differences then. Why should they have? Differences had caused the war in the first place. We tried to believe that we were all the same at heart, and we clutched at our conformity not out of dullness of spirit, but out of an intuition that our difference, if encouraged, might lead us to cut each other's throats.The reality of suburban life in that decade is fast disappearing. The parents of that time, many of whom had gone to war and then went on to have 2.2 children each, are already beginning to die. Those of us who were kids then seem to have forgotten the tastes and smells.This series of stories first began with a smell, that most evocative of stimuli. Some time around 1990, I had placed a wet pair of home knit mittens on a heater to dry, and I was overcome, at least emotionally, with the smell of wet wool steaming on a radiator. This smell was my madeleine.The fifties were not all that long ago, yet the smell of wet woolen mittens has disappeared from the nineties. So has the scratch of a rough woolen scarf. The same is true of the smell of pipe tobacco, except for outside official buildings where the rare man with a pipe stands like a mournful dodo among the hacking cigarette smokers.Even the myth of fifties conformity is misleading. Each suburban home was an island that was the home of a strange tribe. No one knew this better than the late John Cheever.And these local tribes, made up mostly of `Anglos,' were especially foreign to the DP's, the so-called Displaced Persons, the immigrants of that decade. The act of mixing the colour dot into the margarine seemed like an arcane ritual, the pouring of fat from the frying pan a dangerous extravagance.To say that I took nothing from the family I grew up with would be untrue. My brothers were avid and successful amateur football, hockey, and baseball players. I was temperamentally and physically incapable of following them in their passions, but I did take some of their spirit for this collection of stories, the tough, aggressive spirit of the sportsman who would rather be knocked flat than yield an inch. From my mother I took a very European sense of the value of culture and education. And from my father, I took shrewdness coupled with an almost medieval sense of piety, and a self-confidence so absurd that it made me tremble with anger and admiration.I took various fragments as seeds for the stories here. These were anecdotes I heard over the dinner table, at the homes of others in our ethnic tribe, and in the church basements after those impossibly long Latin high masses of the fifties. Our ethnic tribe was as varied as any other, but it seemed to take special joy, even zest in the adventures in a new land. In a smoky church basement I first heard of the lumberjack who wrestled with bears, of a woman who married a legionnaire, and of the secret delights of Voltaire. If there was a collective vision among the DP's, it was to learn the rules of the game in North America, and then whip the locals. The ethnics won that game, only to discover that they are the new establishment; it is they who n - Antanas Sileika

From Our Editors

Author Antanas Sileika describes the insecurities of the outsider in Buying on Time. Sileika tells of mixed feelings of scorn and inferiority growing up in a Lithuanian family. He captures the sad process of pretensions and tyrannies of his family's relations with the Canadian elite, in a story of immigrant life and schemes of revenge.

Editorial Reviews

`... a significant contribution -- spare, lively prose rich in observed detail.'

- Philip Marchand - Toronto Star