Friday, 30 December 2016

Lyudmila Ulistkaya returns

Once more on Vlad’s blog
I discovered Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s writing by pure chance. A happy one, I would add. In the spring of 2016, I was lucky enough to put my hands on the short story collection, Childhood and other stories. I really enjoyed reading it so I recommended it on this blog. 
A while ago, in the show Guaranteed 100%, Lyudmila Ulitskaya was invited. A beautiful interview that you must not miss, you can access it here. I had to read the new novel, published at Humanitas Publishing House under the name of Imago, even if the original name of the novel (as it was published in Russian) is The Green Tent.
The action is gently narrated, in short chapters (maybe it’s a way of keeping the readers interested and not boring them with long chapters, and thus motivating them to keep reading despite the large number of pages; I have seen it also in another writer’s novels - Joël Dicker), just like removing one onion skin after another. After each skin, one sees the actions presented before from another point of view. I find it done very masterly, and the readers get to feel omniscient, just like the writer must have felt when writing it, for she makes small notes regarding future happenings.

The novel Imago tells the story of three boys’ friendship, from school to late in their lives. Family liaisons, school problems, dreams about the future, teenager issues, professors-mentors, didactic environment, professional life, personal life, all are dominated by one thing – the iron fist of communism. Fortunately, the fist is put into antithesis. With various ideals. And from the two, threads start. Threads that fight, that attract themselves, that cohabit and live to tell the story.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

'The Three Jolly Tiddlekins' by Vlad Mușatescu

Excerpt from the chapter 'Everyone ... jogs!':

Everyone ... jogs!

Actually, I had reasons. Multiple ones.
Firstly, well because jogging is the ultimate sport, invented by the Americans, to keep fit through great speed runs.
In my case, my last run (in forcing) had happened more than thirty years ago, when two shepherd dogs chased me.
Secondly, a very serious reason, was the fact that, at dawn, when I was about to go to sleep, a mutt started barking. Just in front of my apartment. Initially, I thought I was dreaming. But when the beast started intensifying its yelping, I was forced to notice the cruelest reality.

When I opened the door, being very brave though, I was attacked by the dog that had burst out into this recital of barking. It was pop Mishu-Falconetti, the Jimblas’ dog. Accompanied by Tilică Boieru. Mishu launched into my arms, making a jump like they do in the circus shows, and, extremely excited, started licking my face. I totally got it why. Because, upon going to bed, my face was dry and sore from the sun and so I applied a great deal of Nivea moisturizing cream on it. How was I to know that the cream was also eatable?
.................................................................................................

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Vasily Grossman - The Road

In the opening of his novel, Maria Arsene has the following motto:

"Always keep in mind that the memory is your legacy.
You have to share it with others so that it won’t perish along with you.
Remember this! Remember this!"

                                  
Reading 'The Road' by Vasily Grossman, I realized once more how important it is to keep alive the memory of certain things. They say that history continues to repeat, and that people do not learn from their mistakes. Maybe that happens because we choose to forget, to ignore memories.
Aside from a couple of touching but realistically written short stories, in 'The Road' there are certain short stories that include testimonials of the survivors of German camps. The story 'The Hell of Treblinka' is one of such stories. Here, the writer conveys an answer to the question 'What's the use of us keep remembering such horrors?'; and namely, that the writer has the duty of telling the story, while the reader has the duty of keeping oneself informed, for by ignoring the history, the memory of the death is dishonored. 
Written almost 100 years ago, this story brings to the attention current inquietudes and questions. Grossman goes on beautifully by stating that we should not concentrate upon the responsability that Germany had towards the committed atrocities, but all peoples and current and future citizens have the duty to make sure that something like this never happens again. And that they should always remember.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Ioana Duda – ‘The journal of my first death’


Mihai Eminescu’s famous verse (‘I never thought that I could ever learn to die’) resounded in my ears when I read the title of this book; so, I skimmed through it a little and decided I must read it.
Yes, this is a journal. But I would add that it is a journal that could belong to anyone. We all have gone through similar anxious moments that the main character, Valentina, goes through. We all have asked ourselves, at a certain moment in time, questions regarding life, death, life after death, love, friendship, the meaning of our being on this earth, the happiness we brought to our loved ones.
I found myself especially in the fragment when Vale retells how her mother used to ask her to take afternoon naps. I remembered the moments when my mom would ask me to go to sleep, and I was far from sleepy. Two sayings of my mom’s remained with me until today. The first one, ‘sure, you did nap! It lasted just as long as a crow flew over a block of flats.’ The second, ‘nap now; when you are older you would wish to nap in the afternoon, but your busy schedule won’t allow you to.’
Returning to the topic, ‘The journal of my first death’ is a book that imperceptibly bewitches one. Page after page, one realizes, when it is already too late, that one has become a prisoner. And all one can do is to continue reading. That until the unread pages start to become fewer and fewer and one dreads the moment of goodbye. And then, salvation comes. ‘To be continued’ at the end of the novel makes the separation a little bearable.

This book that cuts one to the quick and in which things are presented just as they are, in the most possible direct language, will surely enchant you, too.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Caterpillar



Some of the snow has melt away. Slushes appear here and there among patches of ice or white spots covering the earth. I sit at my window and watch a gently creature saluting me. A caterpillar has found its place on a black cable and tries to continue its majestic journey until its very end.





Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Philip O Ceallaigh - And you wake up laughing


Like any other self-respectful reader, I am constantly in search of books that could spiritually enrich me. I do not look for answers when I read books, but I do wish to find moments that could be described as they had never before, common things that receive (through the author’s writing) new meanings; I search for the old in the new and the new in the old. And you wake up laughing is a book that spiritually enriches one. At a first glance, it might strike you as a simple narration. The maze-like streets of Bucharest cast a strange spell and one winds up asking onself, just like the main character, if one is courageous enough to answer the call of one's true version.
Bricks appear, here and there, throughout the narration. I let you discover the construction the book refers to. 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Bricks

Reading the book ‘The wizard king Ștefan Iordache’, I found myself swept away in a magical world where words are bricks.
Words are bricks not because they are solid and we might hurt the ones we throw them at. Words are bricks because in the world of actors they represent stability. Ștefan Iordache answers, one by one, general questions regarding life, profession, love and devotion. If one is patient enough to filter those answer inside, one may reach the bricks I mentioned before. Then, pictures and statements of those that knew him come next in the book, gently laying over the declarations of Ștefan Iordache. One finds common conclusions between the actor's statement and those of the family, former colleagues and collaborators, and that's such a great thing. It seems that those people really knew the true self of Ștefan Iordache. 
I remember the first time I learned what is an actor.
I was watching the series 'La piovra', when the poor inspector Corrado Cattani found his tragic end. I started crying and my parents could not comfort me. Dad even came with a nougat to the rescue. It didn't help. Then, mom told me: 'he is an actor, what you see is a role he plays. Well, do you think that if it was true actors would gladly go get hired in order to be shot dead?!' The firm look in her eyes convinced me, even though the image of the fallen inspector haunted me for a while.
Then, years later, on a Sunday, in the Saint Nicholas Church in Tulcea, an actor entered. He had a long white flax shirt, hanging out from his beige pants. I immediately recongnized him, insatiably staring at him. He seemed so tall that his crown touched the ceiling. And then I remembered my mom's words. He was an actor that had come down from the screen into the reality that also encircled me, and thus my mom had not lied to me.

What is an actor?, quivers inside of me  from the recital of Horațiu Mălăele. And from there I receive an answer: 'who, look, you see through me/ what is evil and what is good'.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Proneness

A sound becomes alert and I realize that unless I hurry up, the poor cars waiting for the switch of lights in order to drive away will run me over. I’m on the sidewalk. Pff, that’s a release! Once more I survived. 
I slow down my pace. Enough to enjoy the scene in front of me. A white Panemar booth. A lady is waiting standing in line and smiling at the person in front of her. A schoolboy; his backpack gave him away. A blue cap keeps dropping menacingly over his eyes, but he holds tight. On his tip-toes. And with the tip of his fingers strongly grabs at the counter.
The voice of the salewoman reached over to me, too: we don’t have.
‘Then, please do give me …’.
And I can’t hear the end of his sentence anymore. But I keep thinking how nice it is to hear a little boy using the courtesy pronoun.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Sibea

While I listened to someone talking in Russian, I realized some words do have some resonance. A culinary one.
For example, the Romanian word for kindergarten (grădiniță) has always got me thinking about (and craving for) roe salad. Yet, the Romanian 'you're welcome!' (Cu plăcere!) leads in the top of such special words. And this because it always made me think of apple pie with nuts and cinnamon. 
As for sibea, I could relate its resonance to a Russian TV series for children during the time I was little and my sister would make me vermicelli with milk and sugar. It still tastes the same.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Matei Visniec - Preventative Disorder


Media cynicism. How many have got it? How many can see it?

By reading 'Preventative Disorder', one can actually see the curtain coming down, unveiling a fragile desk at which all wills are gathered. Yes, everything is a game of will. The will to rank a good rating at any cost, the will to adapt to the trends, the will to get by no matter the risks, the will to narrate subjective truths embellished by nonsensical happenings, the will to live in normality, but most of all, the will to constantly define normality. Aside from this game of wills, the narration is beautifully combined with personal testimonials and new definitions given to words or language, but also with 'the mechanics of producing cliches and media labels'.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

When home is a box full of surprises

My visit to Tulcea was also marked by a surprise. Totally unplanned by no one. Well, maybe by the bookcase in the living room.
('I really enjoy learning tailoring' written by Draga Neagu)
Good tailwind, squirrels!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Milan Kundera – The Festival of Insignificance


Milan Kundera’s latest novel is just like all his other novels, a masterpiece. An illustrative mingling of history, philosophy, critique of society and individualism, but also downthrown of ideas we thought were invariable. Even from the first Milan Kundera's novel I read, I have always admired his extraordinary talent of making history and its main actors present in the unfolding of current affairs, or in the explanation of current affairs. Thus, historical actors acquire a right to be seen in a totally new light, and not in order to excuse themselves, over years, to the current generations, but to explain themselves. It is the case, in this novel, of Stalin and the story of the twenty-four francolins.

The scenery or the places where the action takes place have little or almost no significance, and only those elements important to the story are described. Again, another thing I truly admire in Milan Kundera’s narration is that it lets the readers invent their own setting (if necessary), stressing more on the action. Thus, mom’s portrait of one of the four main characters of the novel is described as hanging on a wall, and then we find out about its significance.

Significance or insignificance? There are a lot of elements in the narration that present both of them. In a most democratic way, both the characters and the reader can choose one of the two values in order to bring themselves peace. Sometimes, even both of the values.

I cannot remain insensible to the description of the gigantic tree. It is so beautifully described that I’d be inclined to take it as irony addressed to the feminine. But I take the democratic right mentioned above and I choose to see the description as a frank and unbiased one. As for ‘the army of apologizers’, I tend to think there are more of them out there then we’d expect.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

I met Pir

I met Pir.


I had better not! But still, now that we crossed each other’s paths, I keep pondering how to tackle this.
And so I arrived to a Romanian site that explains the meaning of the word pir. Pir, a masculine noun, is an everlasting ryegrass with procumbent rhizome, coarse leaves and green flowers (Hm, I totally disagree since I like the color green), grouped in ears, that grows freely, hindering the development of cultivated plants (now, I really am out of my wits with modesty).

Well, a pir has deep roots, and it is very hard to pull them totally from the ground it considers as its own and it is not willing to share with anyone. So is the story with my Pir. It has set its jaw on not letting me grow next to it. And I haven’t even threatened to pull it out from its ground. Then, I would have understood its frustrations and malice. Maybe my Pir is the same as the one from the story ‘Veverița Șugu și câinele Hapciu (Squirrel Șugu and dog Hapciu)’, it cannot bear that I may have stolen its thunder.

I know how this story continues. I wonder how mine will.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Jerome K. Jerome - ‘Three Men on the Bummel’


If one has never read anything written by Jerome K. Jerome, ‘Three Men on the Bummel’ can only surprise one. In a very nice way, actually. I’ve been laughing all the time while reading this book. Jerome K. Jerome tells such absurd and funny stories that it’s impossible not to see oneself in the characters’ places.

I must admit, I found myself the most in the story about the lady that jumps off a bicycle. But the stories have a wide palette for everyone’s taste. A calm reading, peach-perfect for autumn, ‘Three Men on the Bummel’ must find its place in our personal library. Even only to find indications about how to find one’s right side of the hedge in the Black Forest mountain region.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

What courses have you got today?

This morning, I  was in a hurry to the bus station. The low temperature convinced me to hide my hands in the depths of the pockets. I was thinking that I was wrong to tie a scarf to my neck (which, actually, was giving me a hard time for it kept snuggling in one side giving permission to the wind to coarsely caress my neck), when a winter scarf would have done me justice. I looked up at the board hanging from a pharmacy: eight degrees Celsius: Brrr, it’s freezing! No wonder I’m so cold’, I told myself.
‘What courses have you got today?’, a blonde haired-girl asked another next to her. They both moved in slow motion as if they didn’t care that soon the bell would ring. I was right behind them and, selfishly, I envied them for their backpacks on their backs. They sure kept them warm!
‘English, Maths, Sports, and Romanian. What about you?’
‘Romanian, Geography, Maths, and English’.
It seems like a life-time ago when I used to have the same time distribution. Yet, something has not changed: life’s easy for no one.

You, what courses have you got today?!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Sieranevada, 2016

The movie 'Sieranevada', directed by Cristi Puiu, seems to have the structure of an onion. Skin removed after skin, one discovers new faces of a person, of a happening, of a relationship. The main character of the movie is the authentic Romanian family. And I dare to draw this conclusion judging by the laughter in the movie theater when ‘moments in the family’ were represented. Something, even the most insignificant detail displayed can be found in our families, in all our families.
The variety of subjects tackled in the movie is complex. Whether old or young, the subjects strike a chord with/ within us. The so much hated or so much preferred subject, Communism, is also discussed. But the discussion does not stop at it. Various clichés that one digs one’s feet in regarding the way life should be lived, internet and what role it has in our lives, and, of course, conspiracy theory are also tackled.
'Sieranevada' could be called a comedy. Which wouldn’t exactly be incorrect. There are parts in the movie where one laughs one’s head off. But I would be wrong to call it in such a hollow manner.
'Sieranevada' is exactly like in the picture above. A painting, and for the ones who wish it, a masterpiece. But not just any painting. A painting on the move, just like Gioconda’s eyes following one anywhere one might move around the room. It is the vivid representation of the Romanian spirit (one we should not be ashamed of), as it has evolved for the last 27 years.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Henriette Yvonne Stahl – “Aunt Matilda”


I embraced every short story from this book like it was a new land, with different points of view, with characters that have intense torments, dreams, visions, fears, joys and melancholies, so compact that one is transferred there amongst them, next to the character, as if one’s being was made from modelling clay. And one can keep transforming until the last word on the sheet of paper is read. Then, disappointment gently lays over for one got accustomed to being a chameleon, but glad to look behind and appreciate the journey.

 Excerpts from two short stories:
“The white house
“…
Here it is what I read in the newspaper: ’A housemaid was alleged to have stolen an amount of money from her master. Brought to the police, in order to confess, she had been tortured. Out of fear and pain, she had gone mad. The real thief was discovered after three days. The maid was checked into a psychiatric institution. The case is under investigation.’
(…) For anything, anything seems bearable in the world: illnesses, calamities, earthquakes … but people, people that torment other people, that is something I cannot bear. It is something I cannot get myself to understand…. Something that wears me off, that ruins my belief. And thus, I came to realize that life is made out of an essence superior to the human intelligence; (…) I told myself, ugly things that happened cannot be totally erased by a good deed. Instead, they keep together, bad and good. Everything is eternal. Nothing can be erased.
…”


Onofrei and the upper rolling”

It was drizzling. Onofrei had no umbrella. Actually, he had one, but it was at home and he forgot to take it with him. For a few days now, he had been feeling under the weather, and the weather was bad and kept reminding him of the state he was in.

...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

CooCOOcooCOO


Anytime I hear the sound “CooCOOcooCOO”, coming from a dove, I smell kindled hay, gathered in order to make a soup with lovage. Suddenly, I’m transferred to a room in which the chill of the clay walls overrules the burning of the August sun. It is calm and quiet; so quiet that we can hear the fly buzzing in the next room. 
The smell of green pears, brought inside to ripe faster, overarches everything. Even the hammock-bed, in which my cousin and I sit, waiting for the afternoon nap time to pass. But we keep ourselves busy, though. With our hands, we have invented a new alphabet, trying not to speak and give ourselves away by making noise and showing that we do not sleep. It is actually something that we got accustomed to do, now, as adults. To become more and more keen on miming something that it is not. 
But it’s way too nice in here, in the “CooCOOcooCOO” memory, to spoil it. And the smell of the pears cures everything. Even the hypocrisy. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

I have a piece of joy within me!

Recently, my mom told me how I reacted to joy when I was a child. Aside from the distinguishing smile, I used to add the exclamation: I have a piece of joy within me!
I reckon the saying is a little odd, but then again I wasn't very far from the truth either, for the joy was within me, and only from there could it reach outside of me.
And outside of me I have been finding joys, among which that of receiving an immortal bunch of flowers with buds encrusted with poems.

My heart is weak at the thought of undoing this wonder, so carefully made, but a bud I have managed to unveil. The others are bound by 'to be continued'.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Trips have arrived at the seaside

A traveler should keep on travelling. And the road should better be adventurous.
The book ‘Aventuri de excursionist/ Adventures of tourists’ has arrived at Constanta.
Receive it with open arms!


Monday, 11 July 2016

Enduring love – Ian McEwan


A balloon starts a storm. Intense feelings that show their endurance when at the two ends forces pull with full strength.
A book that encourages introspection and a passionate search for the answer to the question: how should an enduring love be? Are we sure that our perception is the correct one?

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Hallo

A broad leaf. So broad that it can endure the siege of heavy raindrops that powerfully strike it, creating a corny rhythm, and yet so magical. And the Moon. Yes, It. Surrounded by that hallo of luminous dust, which so generously often borrows to others. A broad green leaf and a Moon hallo. A light breeze, abounding of wet herbs.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Everyone has their own sandglass – Haralamb Zincă


This book caught my interest from the very beginning due to a story about Vlad Mușatescu. And then, I was allured by the superb narrations of somewhat familiar far-off places. Somehow, it seems that the passing of time does not affect the nature of people.
Haralamb Zincă ardently writes about the people he met during the Second World War, when he voluntarily joined the Soviet army.

Family, memories and friends are the main characters. And all of them are dominated by that invisible sandglass, keeping the score of our days. A super-hero is mother, presented in the last pages of the novel. But what if the sandglass does not carry us, and it’s the other way around?!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A seemingly goose dog

I keep staring in fear every time I arrive on the street I live. A few weeks ago, one of the neighbors that live in houses with yards decided to give her K-9 a walk in the street. Actually, a very honorable deed. The only problem is that she considers that as long as her dog is not aggressive towards her, it’s the same case for everybody else walking in the street. So, she let it take a walk by itself. Like our grandparents used to do in the countryside when they let their flock of geese wander about in the street.
The first time I saw it walking alone in the street, my heart stop beating. I waited for a while, watching it how it passed by my block of flats, and then, I slowly entered the building.
The second time, a child came out from a yard and measured noses with our walker. Horror swiftly spread onto his face. He started crying and gave a somewhat impression of wanting to run. Out of nowhere, the dog’s master appeared and yelled that it is best for him not to run. ‘It’s very important that you do not run!’, she yelled. It’s fine that these days we can still find people that could tell us what is important not to do. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened if she hadn’t appeared then.
I have nothing against walking the dog! Of course it must be taken out for a walk from that narrow place in the yard. But in a leash and accompanied by its master. Especially, when we’re talking about a K-9.
And just as I am writing these lines, a lady is walking her two small dogs which could fit in a pocket of a coat. Both in leash.
It’s not that hard to make a small effort for the others, is it?!

Friday, 20 May 2016

‘The Folding Canvas Chair of the Actor’ by Mircea Diaconu


Reading the book ‘When winter comes here, to us’, I realized that Mircea Diaconu is not just a magnificent actor, but also a great story-teller. Consequently, when I saw the book ‘The Folding Canvas Chair of the Actor’ on a shelf in a bookstore, I did not think too much about buying it. 
I read it very quickly, fearing that soon I would finish it. And, actually, this is what makes a good book stand out. Not pompous words and praises about the skill of the writing words. No. Only that intense experience and that curiosity which keeps one reading, even though one feels sad about finishing the book.
To have the courage of not taking oneself too seriously after years and years of experience and resounding successes… well, this is for me the definition of modesty. 
Mr. Mircea Diaconu writes with an extraordinary modesty about his beginnings. Moreover, this modesty is a pledge of his immense love for his profession. Self-irony and cynicism appear also in the book, and they represent for me the tastiest ingredients one could find in the written literature. I share the same fascination with the author about autumn – for me, it had almost always marked beginnings – which he so lovely presents in some pages of his book.

‘The Folding Canvas Chair of the Actor’ is not a book about theatre or movie, in general. It is an arrow-actor willing to make all necessary sacrifices in order to get to the point where it was sent to. It is, if one wants, a ‘just for fun’ lesson about what it means to be motivated and to love (one’s profession, the public, personal life, colleagues, things around one and that encourage one, enemies, critics, texts to be memorized, and even the pictures taken for marketing purposes).

Monday, 16 May 2016

‘Happy Funerals’ (2013)


I have recently seen ‘Happy Funerals’. It’s been a while since I wanted to watch this movie, and I now had my chance. On 15th of April 2016, Florin Piersic Cinema in Cluj Napoca. Yes, a month has passed since then, but I am like this – to the things that greatly impress me I leave them time to settle down within me, while I digest their preciousness.
Right before the movie started, Mr. Horațiu Mălăele told us that this movie is very dear to him and has a great significance for him. I understood why he said that, or maybe not entirely, when tears came to my eyes at the end of the movie.
I am going to start with the beginning, though. Once I saw the movie ‘Nuntă Mută’, my interest in Romanian movies suffered a reanimation. I hadn’t experienced that since ‘Buletin de București’ and ‘Filantropica’. But then, step by step, I watched on youtube some extraodinary Romanian old movies, among which I must mention ‘Singurătatea florilor’. Oh, but I got carried away. Something I easily do. Since I saw the movie ‘Nuntă Mută’, I have been waiting for Mr. Mălăele to come with another movie. It has been a while, but it was worth it. ‘Happy Funerals’ is an incredible movie-symbol. I already feel like I have enormously chopped away of its mastership by qualifying it like this. It is more, actually, a lot more. It is life in its purest whirl, it is smile and intense living, it is friendship and hypocrisy, it is song and strong love for tomorrow. The actors play wonderfully, a mild and tender delight.  

After seeing the movie, I tried to buy a DVD with it, but I could not find one. I would have loved to give it to everyone in search of answers or questions. Do believe me, this movie contains them all! So, I drew the conclusion that Mr. Horațiu Mălăele was right when he had asserted that his movies haven’t been so much appreciated in our country, yet he was glad that at least they were successful abroad. ‘Happy Funerals’ is a movie that must be seen at least once in a lifetime (that is also because it is possible that when you see it for the first time, you might not grasp some symbols), and not because I say so, but because you must convince yourselves that something so extraordinary exists.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Susan Sontag – In America


Emigrating can be an experience hard to describe; but, still, Susan Sontag manages to grasp its main points. And moreover, within the pages of her novel she presents torments related to social life, professional life, couple’s existence, aspirations, wishes more or less hidden, and fragments of a woman’s soul.
I hope the fragments below will convince you:

‘Such a humiliating experience to be robbed of the past. No one knows – and even if they did, who would care?! – who my grandfather was. General… what's his name? Maybe they heard of Pulaski, but only because he came to America, or of Chopin, because he lived in France. While in Poland, I used to congratulate myself that my sense of dignity was not due to my name or rank. I was far too different from my family, I had better and more beautiful goals, I had other weaknesses. But I was proud to be Polish. And here, this pride, and being Polish, is no longer relevant, and also an obstacle, for it transforms us into out of fashion people…’

 ‘Sparks of hope, like some sparks of desire. A new start. I wonder how many things should one give up to in order to have the privilege of ‘the new start’. For more than fifty years, Europeans have told themselves: ‘If things should go bad, we can leave anytime to America.’ Lovers whose connection was not accepted by society, running away from their families’ interdictions, artists incapable of winning a public worthy of their work, revolutionaries oppressed by the futility of their revolutionary effort…. Towards America we go! This America that should repair the absurdity of Europe’s sins or simply make one forget about what one had wanted, and replace one’s wishes with new ones.’

 ‘One must make one’s goals float a little higher from the ground, to keep others from profaning them. Also, one should free oneself from drawbacks and humiliation so that they won’t root within one and suffocate one’s soul.’

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

My dear Vlad!

Today, we celebrate 94 years since the day Vlad Mușatescu was born. And what kind of celebration is that without one of his wonderful texts?!


Vlad Mușatescu – The Games of Detective Conan

(excerpt)

If I was admitted, actually seized, in room nr. 2 to the Clinique of the Institute of Endocrinology, everything is due to my desperate attempts to find an oasis of peace in order to finish my so long dreamed novel. The magazine I work for, for over two decades, had approved two creation holidays. That I wasted in hopeless searches that resulted in disasters. Because, during the aforementioned holidays, if I did not manage to write anything remarkable, at least I totally made use of my detective inclinations. Except for the almost total demolition and disintegration of ‘Bombitza’ (my 600 D Fiat), now in reconditioning, under the direct supervision of my nephew, the engineer, at ‘Cyclops’ workhouse, from Drumul Taberii, everything turned out just fine. That is, without me writing my novel, and a surplus of weight. Bulgarian Penke, my wife, together with aunt Ralitza, the craziest representative of my family, from my father’s side, were both scared by my successes in this area, and convinced me, almost forced me, to accept being scientifically explored by the eminent doctors from ‘Parhon’. Fed at gram and by feeding bottle, only with diuretic and laxative teas, with unidentifiable vegetables and fruits (5% carbohydrates), I was no longer capable of thinking straight, let alone write a single line at my dream novel. Or, my good friends, Doru-the doctor and Sandu- the big guy ensured me that I will become a kind of super-writer. Once my body was toxin-free, coming from unreasonable nourishment, I would have the capability of an astronaut, able to create genial pages. That’s a good one! Even from the very first day, I felt a permanent state of dizziness. If the night shift janitor of the Institute hadn’t taken me to his heart, the next day I would have been dead. So, because of him, I came back to the normal life. And to my favorite food, that I could never consider harmful. What could be so dangerous in a slice of well-done bacon, a little brown just enough to become crunchy, accompanied by 16 fried eggs, and a couple of strong coffees, well-smoked by some quality cigarettes? After all, let’s be serious! Had Balzac been a bag of bones? Or Alexandre Dumas- the father? No way. Just look at their photos and you will be convinced of the contrary.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Tourist Adventures

The story goes on. On a trip, of course!
'Tourist Adventures' is a tribute to friends and family. Actually, it's a tribute to the expectations they had every time I got back from a trip. Which seemed to always be full of funny or bizarre adventures. I added sight-seeing black pepper, bizzare or kind-hearted natives salt, laughter chilli, introspection nutmeg, meditation laurel, and I obtained a collection of 8 short stories.
Enjoy!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Sing

The rooster is singing, my dear. It sings of a new start. Like it did yesterday, today and it will even sing tomorrow. The same start that comes ceaselessly, without stopping. An encouraging start that makes one dream of the things to come.

The rooster is singing, my dear, and I have never thanked you. That smell of moonflower remembers me of you. It is present within yesterday and tomorrow. And tomorrow is that crystal glass with brown and orange dots, left somewhere in the vestibule. It sings and I hope you’re proud!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Joël Dicker – The Book of Baltimore

Family influences the way our personalities develop. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and parents are modifier factors for the relationships we will have with other grown-ups. The new book of Joël Dicker centers upon this aspect, presenting childhood in a brutally sincere way. That conglomerate of feelings we could not have explained, observing rules, behavior approved in society, brutality and cruelty of the children of the same age with us, are minutely analyzed. From this point of view, The Book of Baltimore is for me an extraordinary novel. The same style, just like in his previous book, making you sit tight and keep reading ceaselessly until the end of the story.

With feeble unskillfulness, I would say that Joël Dicker is the magnificent writer of these last six years.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Lyudmila Ulitskaya – Childhood and other stories

They say a good book is when one escapes from tactile present. One reads, and with every word the connection with the narrative becomes so strong that one can feel the breeze going through the character’s hair. Moreover, a good book is like a good actor. Every page may be suspected of ‘having played’ its part in a believable way if one understands even characters’ uncomprehensive uneasiness. Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s stories are believable actors. And not because they went to a fancy school. On the contrary, they talk in a simple, open and sincere way about recurrent issues and ideas. It is the mirage of that universality to which we all have access, whether we realize it or not. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Smile, please!

Illustration by Cristi Vecerdea-Criv
Take a shot, dear ...Maybe you get lucky...

(At ease! Let's laugh! by Cristi Vecerdea-Criv, published in 1990 at the Military Publishing House)

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Confrontation

I am sitting at a table, looking out of the window. A narrow street between this window and the one across it. There I can see two people sitting at a table. A sales agent and a lady. 
The lady makes large gesticulations, and from time to time the agent bows his head towards left, and his mouth moves swiftly. The lady’s blonde and long hair highlights the, I think, velvet emerald-green cap on her head. Her black sweater is full of big stars, colored in red, blue, white and yellow. In her left hand, she holds a black mobile telephone, pressing its keys from time to time, and in her right hand she has a blue ballpoint that she uses in order to write and which she sometimes menacingly points toward the agent. Their mandibles tensely move, and then they clench. The lady stands up from her chair making a hand gesture that implies the fact that everything is lost. In the background, other agents, once she moves away, lapse into smiles; and clients allow themselves to do that, too. The agent seems frozen. The lady comes out of the agency. Seeing how she lets go of the door, it seems it firmly bounces. She is outside. She puts her mobile telephone in her bag; she looks towards right, then left, and decides to go right. I see her now in all her glory. The cap matches the green bag, not as emerald as the cap, which is on her shoulder. From one of its corners, a fluffy, bellied red plush hangs. She stomps as she passes in front of the window where I used to watch her at, defying the agent. The agent leaves his desk and vanishes away. 
Curtain down.  

Friday, 5 February 2016

Smile, please!

Illustration by Cristi Vecerdea-Criv

Momma's little boy came home on furlough...

(At ease! Let's laugh! by Cristi Vecerdea-Criv, published in 1990 at the Military Publishing House)