I, City by Pavel Brycz

I, City by Pavel Brycz

Czech fiction

Original title – Jsem Město

Translators – Joshua Cohen and Markéta Hofmeisterová

Source – personal copy

I’ve been struggling to get into books recently so I decided to go and have a good look through my shelves as I am a compulsive book buyer and find something to kick start my reading again so when I came across this from Twisted spoon press that I brought a few years ago I decided it was the one to try. As it turned out with reading the Lars Mytting about a fictional historical place that never existed here is a book that is a sort of remembrance of the loss of the heart of the writers home town in the sixties where the medieval heart of Most was brought down to expand the local mines. This is a story of that city told in a series of vignettes from various points of view.

Most’s poet finished his story, and approached the memorials, The portugeese poet read to himself the names of the long dead as well.

And, suddenly they became completely serious, and forgot the laugh for which they had come, No longer was the absurdity of the Internationale and the youth league shirts. only two of them and the shot dead remained, and the young men felt profound sadness for the fact that people sometimes don’t know how to be people

I am only a new city, not a person.

I am not a hero. I have never defended my walls. Nut when people on my streets and in mu house are truly human, I feel heroic.

I have remebered these poets

Last lines of the Vignette An appearance , heroic.

 

This is a strange novel as it hasn’t a character just a series of little vignettes and historical. They start with a series about the appearance of the city of Most.   Like the Russian occupation where men stayed in the bars and boys stayed men they said. Sports, The photos of Josef Sudek the man famous for his picture of Prague once came to take pictures of Most. The Gypsies those girls that are almost women he loved in the city. Being a man. As you see it is like peeling an onion of the city each pice is a little near the heart of what is Most not a beautiful city like Paris or Prague no this is an industrial place scared by the mining and with its heart torn out just getting by a tough place an industrial city like those other cities like that say Belfast, Newcastle or Glasgow. There is a darkness and humor on the way the city is looked at and her a touch of the magical at times. Moved for the mine the new Most is haunted by the ghost of the past but also the loss of its own soul.

An appearance , fairy-tale

I knew one old lady. She lived on Skupova Street. Her hair was silver and complexion pale

And eyes black, mysterious as her walks.

Where did she emerge from a walk, you never knew.In which place,in which contury.

Her  name was Eva Ezechielova.

Where did she have relatives? In Auschwitz. And in Israel.

Her relatives were there, but she lived her alone. Old and forgotten.From century to century, she took long walks.

She talked to herself.She fed pigeons, sparrows and tits, thought it was foolish. Everythingliving she fed. And with old fairy tales she fed her memories.

The opening and a description of a local character.

This is the work of a writer that has his heart in his home but is also the sort of writer that doesn’t dress it up as this is a place that can’t be dressed up. Clever use of short vignettes takes us to many places from the youngster and to the old from the church to the circus from the highest to the lowest in the city. A lament for the ancient heart now a mine and the soulless present like many modern cities in the sixties I imagine the concrete town of soviet housing and town planning making Most of the present a  practical town,  but soulless and that is the sense of the past haunting the present. This is a clever series of vignettes that slowly build a picture of the city. I wonder what took me so long to read this book. Another gem from the Twisted spoon collection.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. roughghosts
    Apr 27, 2020 @ 20:32:31

    I quite liked this book. Good to see you giving it attention.

    Reply

  2. Lisa Hill
    Apr 28, 2020 @ 09:17:15

    Hello, what happened to the comment I left here yesterday?
    I’m sure I said that I’d liked The 16 Trees of the Somme!

    Reply

  3. 1streading
    May 01, 2020 @ 18:50:34

    This sounds really interesting. I haven’t read nearly enough Twisted Spoon books.

    Reply

  4. Trackback: That was the month that was April 2020 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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