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11 votes

Where in the New York City metro area does Ludwik live?

This answer is coming from my experience of living and working in the northern NJ/NY area for almost 20 years... To me the only area where you would have both "broken down piers" and be &...
Skooba's user avatar
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8 votes
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Where in the New York City metro area does Ludwik live?

Ludwik lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. See the first few pages, "Wanda's Greenpoint Convenience".
Tomasz Jedrowski's user avatar
7 votes

What does "I wished it could be us out there." mean in this context?

The 'us' in the boldfaced text refers to the narrator and the person who they are thinking about at the time (referred to as 'you' in the previous sentence "I couldn’t see you on the crowded ...
CinCout's user avatar
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4 votes
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What does "a guy from the year below" mean in this context?

In schools and many other educational institutions, pupils or students are usually grouped based on age. The UK uses the term form; the USA uses the term "grade". So "a guy from the ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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4 votes
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What does "He told me how he’d been in the war" mean in this context?

Yes, it's WW II that the man is talking about. In the 1980s, that's the most likely war for an old Polish man to have been in. How he was in the war is straightforward: it simply means that he was in ...
verbose's user avatar
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4 votes
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What does "mind our own business" mean in this context?

Janusz is arguing that they should treat their homosexuality as a private thing. He says that if they come out of the closet, then they will attract the attention of the police, who will try to entrap ...
verbose's user avatar
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4 votes
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Does “her bike” refer to a motorcycle or a bicycle in this passage?

Generally, the meaning "motorcycle" for "bike" depends on prior context. If I know that you own a motorcycle, then when you say "I rode my bike to the lake yesterday", ...
verbose's user avatar
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4 votes
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What does "Behind it lay the nuns’ convent, their cloister with its orchards and grazing cows..." mean here?

A convent is a religious community whose members live by certain rules and vows. The word also refers to The buildings and pertaining surroundings in which such a community lives. Hence, "their&...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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4 votes
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What does "searching the flats and offices, returning to interrogate the man and the woman and to take down their details" mean here?

The word offices could be used in one of two ways here. First, it's entirely possible that the building where Ludwik is hiding is a mixed-use space that has both business offices and residential ...
verbose's user avatar
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4 votes
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Does "pact you’ve made with yourself" refer to a concession or agreement in this passage?

Yes, all the instances of pact mean the same thing: a formal agreement that has the force of a promise. If I tell myself that I will eat salad for lunch every day so that at the end of the week I can ...
verbose's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "I had lived them" mean in this context?

You are absolutely correct. The memories of the night in question returned to the narrator with an increased intensity than when the night (and all the things that happened at the time) had actually ...
CinCout's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "the expanse between departure and arrival when you’re seemingly nowhere, defined by another kind of time" means here?

From a strictly lexical perspective, it would have been more appropriate to use a term like "period," but "expanse" sounds more literary and its use may be based on the conception ...
Gustavson's user avatar
  • 461
3 votes
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What does "who spoke and lived in denial, destined" mean here?

The word "destined" needs to be interpreted, as @user14111 rightly stated in the comment above, as complementized by the infinitival "to never do anything worth recounting." The ...
Gustavson's user avatar
  • 461
3 votes
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What does "a strong neck with a place made out for his Adam’s apple" mean here?

Beniek is on the cusp of puberty, although if he's only nine he seems to be growing rather faster than the other boys his age. Since he hasn't quite entered puberty, his body has not exhibited all the ...
verbose's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "They can’t bear to see us having fun" mean in this context?

Yes, Karolina means that the women selling condoms do not like it when people use those prophylactics. This is probably because Poland was, and to a large extent still is, a conservative country. ...
verbose's user avatar
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3 votes
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Does "Like an unwritten piece of paper" mean like a paper that is literally blank in this passage?

Comparing anonymity with being "like an unwritten piece of paper" strikes me as unusual but it can be explained. An unwritten piece of paper has no names or other words on it and therefore ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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3 votes
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Does "a country junction" mean a crossing of roads in the countryside in this passage?

Yes, your interpretation is right. A junction (see meaning 2b) in this context means: 2 a a place or point of meeting b an intersection of roads especially where one terminates While "country&...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "There was so much I could not get enough of, so much I would never be able to grasp or possess, no matter how much I tried." mean here?

The two young men have been attracted to each other for some time and are now getting more intimate with each other. I think the bolded sentence describes the feeling of not getting quite "close&...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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3 votes

What does "tucked in below the ramparts of the faculty grounds" mean in this context?

The first meaning of the verb tuck in (Wiktionary) is To pull the blankets or duvet up over (someone in bed); to put (someone) to bed. This is obviously not the intended meaning in the novel, but in ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "It made me think that throughout my life, up to this point, everything I’d done had felt either irrelevant or replaceable." mean here?

From a grammatical point of view, I think it is the position of "throughout my life" that calls for the use of the past perfect, the meaning being that, now that he had been entrusted with a ...
Gustavson's user avatar
  • 461
3 votes
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What does "I need to check on somebody" mean in this context?

To check on somebody means to make sure that someone is safe. In this context, it may just mean to make sure that the person in question is feeling fine. At least, that would be the expected literal ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "look a little … something." mean in this context?

Something refers to an unspecified negative feeling. Janusz does not know how to interpret the expression he sees on Ludwik's face. Janusz either really does not understand how Ludwik is feeling, or ...
verbose's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "And it won’t be weird with Hania? Coming on to" mean in this context?

Ludwik means that since Hania is romantically interested in Janusz, and since he and Janusz are lovers, it would be weird for him (Ludwik) to ask her for a favor. The weirdness is not a judgment of ...
verbose's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "the gigantic gates and lines of soldiers that protected the castle that was the Soviet embassy" mean in this context?

Since both the gates and the lines of soldiers are security measures, they both protect the Soviet embassy. The syntax of the sentence shows that too. If it were only the soldiers that protected the ...
verbose's user avatar
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3 votes
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What does "the same faces" mean in this context?

It means that Hania and Maksio have recognizably the same features as adults as when they were children. They are no longer chubby, but they have “the same faces”, i.e., they still look the same.
verbose's user avatar
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3 votes

What does "I’d lost" mean in this context?

"I'd lost you" is past perfect, meaning "I had lost you". The tense "past" refers to events that have happened. The "perfect" aspect refers to events that have ...
at_'s user avatar
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3 votes
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In Swimming in the Dark, why does Beniek go through the preparations for First Communion?

To "fit in" and hide that he is a Jew While I haven't read the book and I don't know the exact circumstances, the OP in his own answer was right that since the late 1950s there was a steady ...
Yasskier's user avatar
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2 votes
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What does "said through a bite of radish" mean here?

A bite here means a mouthful. In other words, Janusz still has radish in his mouth while he speaks those words, so he quite literally needs to speak through it. If the author wanted to say that the ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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2 votes
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What does "suddenly close again in the dark" mean in this context?

"suddenly close again" means that they felt the same closeness again that they had felt during the night in the barn. "in the dark" is literal, since they are standing in a "...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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2 votes
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What does "I was paralysed by possibility, caught between the vertigo of fulfilment and the abyss of uncertainty." mean here?

I think the sentence: I was paralysed by possibility, caught between the vertigo of fulfilment and the abyss of uncertainty. describes the psychological state of not knowing what to do. "...
Gustavson's user avatar
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