THE USE OF MAN by Aleksandar Tišma reviewed by Jamie Fisher • Cleaver Magazine
THE USE OF MAN by Aleksandar Tišma Trans. by Bernard Johnson New York Review of Books, 368 pages reviewed by Jamie Fisher One of the major themes in The Use of Man is the use of women by men. Most of Tišma’s men are womanizers, none more confirmed than the central character Sredoje. As a boy, he dreams of lording over "sweet-smelling" slave girls as a pirate brigand; as an adult, he uses his policeman status to coerce frightened women into sleeping with him. The other main character, Vera, attempts to save herself as war approaches by separating from her family, escaping with a local official to Budapest. She attracts him by tanning in the sun, relying only on “her own healthy, supple body, in which she had full confidence.” In the long, dismal postwar economy, she will eventually prostitute herself in exchange for gifts and favors. For preoccupations like these, the author has been accused, on occasion, of “eroticizing the Holocaust.”