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Ivan Gabor



 
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Our guest today didn't have a fascinating life; he had many. Constantly changing names and circumstances, he lived through war, famine, persecution and bitter loneliness to taste artistic and romantic fulfillment even while dealing with the worst imaginable trauma. With help from writer Jeff Beal, his true story is never predictable and always fascinating. It is a breathtaking true account of a life so extraordinary, it reads like fiction. It's an inspiring journey of transformation, from harrowing holocaust survival to triumph in foreign lands, and the conquest of a passionate love that spans four continents and as many distinct identities. Taking us on this odyssey and marvel is a remarkable human spirit. When we finish this interview I want you to ask yourself, would you survive? How would you live with the memories of desperation and destruction? Our guest today is Ivan Gabor and the book we will be talking about today is called “Echoes of My Footsteps: An Autobiography”

Gabor’s youth won’t surprise World War II buffs—but his unique literary consciousness immediately sings through the din. Born Jewish in idyllic middle-class circumstances in Hungary, the author’s life is changed forever with the heinous advent of the Nazis. He and his mother are placed at the end of a firing line but are saved at the last moment from the spray of bullets when the firing squad is called away. Gabor doesn’t call it a miracle, and he doesn’t call it fate. The author finds only one word in the lexicon that can reference his relationship with the universe—surreal. He returns to this metaphor often. For Gabor, history, trauma and love are mere players in the drama of a life, juxtapositions that are at times beautiful and often horrible. Staying away from queasy moralizing, the author doesn’t fit his adventures in the Israeli defense force and his career as a clothier into a sensible showpiece displaying perseverance and faith. Rather, he sees his life as an encounter with the brutal and the beautiful, the real and the illusory, the senseless and the sensuous. Both brazen adventurer and historical pawn, Gabor reinvents the stoic postwar consciousness and confesses that he finds it impossible to wax nostalgic about those traumatizing years. It’s difficult to find this brand of harrowing honesty in almost any popular book about those years, and the author is haunted by anxiety to this day. Though Gabor finds stunning success after the war in Argentina as a children’s fashion designer, anti-Semitism once again enters the scene. Only after the “Dirty War” does he find his way to Miami and claim one of his life’s greatest prizes, the lovely Rebequita. This ethereal Latin beauty is half his age and initially involved with another man (his employee), but the author’s unabashed vitality will not be deterred, and again he fails to make any real apologies. This refreshing resistance to political correctness or stock theology reminds readers of why an individual’s life is relevant for memoir in the first place—the lasting mystery.

An autobiography as compelling for its narrative as it is for its masculine attitude and vigor."


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