Proze 21 magazine, 2 / 2016
PROSE 21 magazine
Reload. A word that encompasses the itinerary of literary magazines; thanks to their structural geometry, a geometry that only seldom varies from one issue to the next. Reload, therefore. Nevertheless, this time not because of any standard or other. But because the structure of the present magazine is different than what it might seem. It is an expansion pack. The working principle: in order to promote a given author, whoever it might be, Proza 21 publishes various literary texts by that author, translations of his or her work, reviews of his or her books, an autoplastic portrait of him or her, and at the same time dedicates to him or her a large space for dialogue (an interview, for example). You will of course have noticed that our magazine’s headings correspond with precisely these areas. And so you will not be surprised to find in these pages six names that have already been presented in the first issue. Each in a new posture, one of those postures that presuppose an expansion pack. A zoom. In order to promote creativity, Proza 21 takes upon itself, from a different viewpoint, the same task as a literary agent.
But even so, a number of new writers have been added to those from the previous issue. This is self-evident. An expansion pack is, by its very nature, comprehensive. It implies an overall view of individual works and, progressively, issue by issue, of today’s prose.
Aurel Maria Baros
07 : : edito
09 : : Bucuresti. Proza
11 : : Dan Stanca
21 : : Florin Toma
29 : : Gheorghe Iova
41 : : Serban Tomsa
51 : : Varujan Vosganian
63 : : Prozatori de astazi. Mutantii 2
de Aurel Maria Baros
69 : : Bump mapping
71 : : Gheorghe Schwartz / Arad
83 : : Petru Cimpoesu / Bacau
93 : : Ovidiu Dunareanu / Constanta
101 : : Autoplastie. Horia Gârbea
de Horia Gârbea
105 : : Cei care strica jocurile: Mircea Horia Simionescu
de Aurel Maria Baros
117 : : Spatiul Global
119 : : Matei Visniec / Franta
131 : : Nicolae Spataru / Republica Moldova
151 : : Transdinamic
144 : : Fernando Vallejo / Mariana Sipos
151 : : English. Doina Rusti / Miruna Pinta, J.C. Brown
157 : : English. Razvan Petrescu / Alistair Ian Blyth
163 : : Français. Stefan Dimitriu / André Cadar
169 : : e’Nterviu
Alexandru Ecovoiu / Marius Mihet
181 : : GPS
181 : : Angelo Mitchievici
185 : : Emil Lungeanu
189 : : Marius Mihet
195 : : Proza tânara. Mihai Bogdan Ionescu-Lupeanu
201 : : Vizual. Mitul Pandorei - Mita Vostok / Franta
Razvan Petrescu (1956, Bucharest) practised as a doctor for eight years. In 1990 he gave up medicine and started working as an editor for Cuvîntul and Amfiteatru magazines and later the Litera, All, and Curtea Veche publishing houses.
Cartea Româneasca has published his collections of short prose Gradina de Vara (The Summer Garden, 1989) and Într-o dupa-amiaza de vineri (One Friday Afternoon, 1997), and his meta-diary Foxtrot XX (2008). Curtea Veche Publishing has published a collection of interviews with the author, Variatiuni pe o tema de Vater-Puccini (Variations on a Theme by Vater-Puccini, 2013), a collection of his letters, Srisori catre Mihai (Letters to Mihai, 2014), and a collection of his literary criticism, Ursule?ul lui Freud (Freud’s Teddy Bear, 2015). He has also written two plays: Farsa (The Practical Joke, 1994) and Primavara la Bufet (Spring at the Canteen, 1995).
He has won a number of major literary awards. Translations of his work have been published in Israel, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, and France.
foto: Mircea Struteanu
R e v i e w o f l i t e r a t u r e
a n d t h e v i s u a l a r t s
2 / november 2016
Aurel Maria Baros, director
Marius Mihet, Emil Lungeanu, associate editors
Alistair Ian Blyth, english
The texts and images contained herein may not be reproduced
without the consent of the legal copyright holders
© 2016 Proze 21 review, and the individual authors,
translators, and editors
© 2016, photo Mita Vostok, Le Mythe de Pandore
© 2016, concept by AMB
contact / mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Proza 21 = ISSN 2501-2827
Ex Libris Universalis,
10 euros / copy
number 2, table of contents - pictures
... writers, translators, literary critics...
Review of literature and the visual arts
english, espagnol, français, romana
© 2015 - 2016, designed by AMB
Alistair Ian Blyth (1970, England), is one of the most important English-language translators of contemporary Romanian literature. He has a Degree in English Literature from Cambridge University (1992) and an MA in Literary Studies from Durham University (1996).
His numerous translations include Polirom’s Contemporary Romanian Prose series (2006-2013); Ion Creanga, Povestea povestilor/L’Histoire des histoires/The Tale of Tales (Humanitas, 2006); 20 Authors (2007) and Writers from a Country Hard to Write, for the Romanian Cultural Institute; Stelian Tanase, Auntie Varvara's Clients (2010), Lucian Dan Teodorovici, Our Circus Presents…(2009) and Gabriela Adame?teanu, The Encounter (2016), for Dalkey Archive Press.
For Plymouth University Press he has translated philosophy - Constantin Noica, Six Maladies of the Contemporary Spirit(2009) and literary criticism - Nicolae Manolescu, French Themes (2011).
One Friday Afternoon
On my release, a gentleman snugly wrapped in a plaid blanket gave me detailed instructions on how to spy on and report citizens displaying deviant social behaviour. I admired his blanket and followed his guidelines as best I could. However, I always got caught and, strangely enough, they all used to buy me a vanilla ice cream. When I arrived back home, Father would take the ice cream cornet, which I was careful to bring him intact, and examine it under the microscope. He would then demonstrate parallax to me, he would show me a paramecium wriggling under the microscope, he would try to explain to me how a camera worked, or a plug socket, or the satellite which in its orbit passed over our house every evening. I think that the mere act of adjusting the eyepiece awakened nostalgia in him, because he would again recount to me the history of his family, interspersed with brief insights into the life of freshwater infusorians: his mother had been a beautiful woman, afflicted with tuberculosis, but in those days there wasn’t any hydrazide, and so she used to take paracetamol, she cut her hair short, she looked after a violent husband and two children, despite the fact that she would be continually coughing up blood, her sister had become an engineer on a construction site, where she met her future husband in a workmen’s hut, he was an expert in dynamite, later promoted to the position of consul, her father, the patron of that small world, which is to say, my grandfather, had already reached the rank of general by the time he became the first man in town to buy a motorcar with a hooter, with which he ran over a grocer. He seems to have been a robust, aloof man, who spoke two foreign languages fluently in front of the bathroom mirror, and who later kept a personal diary very rich in details, in which he recorded the names and vices of all the neighbours and, up until the hour before he died, a breakdown of how they spent their pensions: one leu on kerosene, three lei on bread, ten bani on matches, nine hundred on brandy. With an ambiguous smile, Father used to say that Grandfather would have served as a magisterial embodiment of the manner in which we lived, had he still been alive. Negligent. Infantile. Or rather reckless, wasting our time on trifles. He used to cite me as a living example. He knew that I wanted to become a painter, although he still hoped I would end up becoming an illusionist. Particularly after that episode at school. In life, you can’t just do what you like, he would say, and he said it often, perhaps because he liked the sound of it, you are also duty bound to act in the benefit of others, who have no other succour in society, which is eternal, for as long as it is able, although before our eyes we constantly see an image of the end, you yourself know it, although it must be said that your brain is not much help to you, because I’ve seen the lines on your electroencephalogram, it looks like a ruled exercise book, the graveyard, that’s the yardstick, the final image, on some crosses it says Ionescu, on others something else, we shall never forget you, here lies Father, or our beloved Daughter, for a long time, the grave’s gone to hell, it’s waterlogged because of all this rain, you wouldn’t believe how much it rains here, when I was small we used to steal mulberries from the trees that sprout from the bellies, buttocks and faces of those at rest beneath the soil, if they ever find rest, a combination of vitamins and worms, in a single mulberry, the worms being rich in proteins, the mulberries rich in vitamins, and as we munched them I would look at the inscriptions, carved by true masters of their art, at the numbers, the dates of birth and death, which more often than not were carved wrongly, but it didn’t matter, at the inscriptions in marble or wood. And in places a photograph. He a soldier, she at high school or in the old folk’s home, an old snapshot fading to sepia, under a cracked little pane of glass. The majority of them having done nothing else in their impoverished lives except struggle to escape poverty, ignorant as they were, the poor wretches, the imbeciles, that poverty helped them to be closer to the sun at which you shot your sucker-dart, to compose themselves, to expire and to vanish without regrets into the upper air. People are dangerous, that’s the truth of it, there is not and has never been anything you can do with them. It takes you few minutes to decipher the names on the gravestones.
Father had a hammer. Twenty years ago, on a Wednesday, after I saw the tool in question caked with blood and strands of hair, it started to rain. I can’t understand why it took so long, but it was only then that I realised that Father had used to kill people with the hammer, in the garden. A number of suspect mounds had appeared in the vegetable patch. And he did what he used to do, of this I am absolutely convinced, with the approval, if not at the urging, of my maiden aunts, who had disturbing feet, with triple soles, I would espy them through the keyhole of their bedroom with the starched curtains, ladies who were, when it came down to it, rather strange, who pretended to go to church when in fact they only went to the toilet in the outhouse at the bottom of the yard, where I had placed a huge spider. But it was a stupid one, because in two years it never even prevented them from doing their business, let alone frightened them. It was so gentle, poor thing. It wouldn’t have eaten a fly, and certainly not two maiden aunts. I think that it was they who were at the root of all the troubles, because, among other things, they used to undress in front of the mirror and then say the Lord’s Prayer, stark naked.
A selection of
Romanian contemporary fiction
to be read,
to be translated
[in english by Alistair Ian Blyth]
They annoyed me no end, but they drove Father out of his wits, particularly after he became afflicted with ill health and, no matter how calm you might be, just listening to them would end up making you want to murder somebody. Not to mention how they used to comb out their thin hair in the sink and then forget to clean it, and even if they did, they would still block the plughole, how they used to hum disquieting popular tunes with the window open, how they used to talk to themselves, wandering all through the house, how they used to scold Mother for not putting what they deemed to be nutritive elements in the broth, for not adding unpeeled potatoes, since the skins contained tocopherol, how they used to look at the workers from the factory, panting like in Leftward, Three Hammers, a play famous at the time, how they used to hog the bathroom in the morning, and how they used to do lifts on the carpet-beating rack. Well, that day it rained; I looked at the birds. There were a few blackbirds, a crow and two tomtits. They had eaten a lot, on the threshold someone had left out a soggy loaf of bread, or maybe it was soaked with something else, maybe with a little alcohol, and the birds polished it off in two hours. After a while, the crow dropped to the ground, stunned. A tomtit knocked its head against the window a few times, and the other birds were ill until late in the evening, until about nine. They kept hiccoughing, and some fell off the telegraph wire. Luckily the yard wasn’t paved.
Then I began to understand.
As yet I did not completely know what. But I kept thin-king with endless excitement about the crow. About our passing lives.
After a while, the priest, caught up in his litany, became confused and instead of casting a clod onto the coffin, he tossed it at me. I had a head cold again that day. I wiped the soil from my nose with a corner of the ribbon on which was inscribed eternal regrets. As the ink was fresh, the regrets smudged and only eternal remained. From the block of flats by the cemetery could be heard Mussorgsky’s Pictures from an Exhibition.
I won’t begin to mention how much bother I had with the coffin. I went to any number of shops, or whatever you call them, and everywhere it was explained to me in an unctuous, auburn, long-suffering, somehow religious tone, it was whispered to me by polite, auburn individuals with close-set, very beady eyes that there were considerable differences in price between the respective items, because some were lighter, made of poplar, others of oak or beech, there were even some with an aerodynamic line, made of aluminium, for special occasions, and in any event a carved coffin was much more expensive than a plain one. I looked at a few samples, which, happily, were empty. I also discovered, on the same occasion, that the carvings invariably represented a specifically Japanese variety of flowers, and indeed I noticed that they were carved with a patience equal to Japanese fanaticism, so much so that I suppose even freshly hatched maggots would have disdained them, unless they were amused at them, at least for a little while.
Then the problem of the handles arose. A brass handle costs an arm and a leg, putting you in the situation of abruptly, bitterly hating it, of wanting to rip it off, stamp on it, melt it down, not to mention that you have to buy four of them. And so in the end I chose a small, simple, unvarnished coffin, without a pillow or handles. I thought that anyway we could rest it on our shoulders.
But since only three people attended the funeral, two of them women, I had to drag it.
Father was looking askance.
If I remember rightly, that look counted among the causes that annoyed me so greatly that Friday afternoon when, after gazing indifferently at my latest painting, it was of a choo-choo train, and telling me that I didn’t have a shred of talent, Father endeavoured to make me understand what talent was. Hard work. Vocation. Devotion. Do you know what vocation is? That was what he asked. Look! And he showed me his medal, his silver insignia with the national coat of arms, awarded for “outstanding service in defence of the state and the social order”. Then he played me a cassette tape. It was an Agfa. I heard a woman’s voice begging for water. I asked him to let the tape run. After a few moments of silence, I heard the same voice again, but now seemingly more poetic. Probably no one had given her any water. What they did to that woman was not on tape. I looked at Father from one side. For defence of state order, he repeated, straightening the curtain, which, for some reason, was fluttering. Then he confessed to me that he had plied his trade for eighteen years, a trade almost musical, if not pure music, because only in such a profession can you listen every week to someone with scorched eyes begging for water or screaming in B flat, like in Chopin’s sonata, which he enjoyed so much when quietly eating sugared blanquette, and he finished his tirade with his eye pressed to the eyepiece, remarking that he was proud. I asked him why. He couldn’t answer me, especially given that a lady with a hat was passing. After we had paused for the lady, I asked him for a B flat. Not even that worked. So I hit him with the hammer, once. He had a very soft head. n