Book Review: The Romanian: Story of an Obsession by Bruce Benderson

“What astonishes and intrigues is Benderson’s way of recounting, in the sweetest possible voice, things that are considered shocking,” wrote Le Monde. What’s so shocking? It’s not just Benderson’s job translating Céline Dion’s saccharine autobiography, which he admits is driving him mad; but his unrequited love for an impoverished Romanian in “cheap club-kid platforms with dollar signs in his squinting eyes,” whom he meets while on a journalism assignment in Eastern Europe.

Rather than retreat, Benderson absorbs everything he can about Romanian culture and discovers an uncanny similarity between his own obsession for the Romanian (named Romulus) and the disastrous love affair of King Carol II, the last king of Romania (1893-1953). Throughout, Benderson-“absolutely free of bitterness, nastiness, or any desire to protect himself,” wrote Le Monde-is sustained by little white codeine pills, a poetic self-awareness, a sense of humor, and an unwavering belief in the perfect romance, even as wild dogs chase him down Romanian streets.

Paperback: 401 Pages

Publisher: Tarcher

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The book is Benderson’s memoir, the story of how he met and developed an obsession for a young Romanian named Romulus. Continue reading

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