3 Minutes and 53 Seconds by Branko Prlja

3 Minutes and 53 Seconds by Branko Prlja

Macedonian fiction

Original title – 3 минути и 53 секунди

Translated by Paul Filev

Source – personal copy

Branko Prlja grew up in Sarajevo graduated from the Josep Tito high school in Skopje which he moved to in his teens as the Balkan conflict start and Yugoslavia fell apart he made his home in Macedonia. He is a writer and graphic designer he set up the first prize for Electronic literature in Macedonia as well as the KAPKA (Creative activism through parody, criticism, and allegory) organization. This book came out under his pseudonym Bert Stein which he has published two books under that title of this book is a nod to the average length of a single but is about the time it takes to read each of the chapters that follow the 20 years from 1984 as we follow an Unnamed character growing up in similar circumstances to that of the writer. One boy growing up as the place he remembers fell apart and he start a new life in Skopje.

That winter the temperature dropped below -20`C, but it didn’t prevent my dad from taking me skiing on Mount jahorina.

The song ” Where the streets have no name”, whioch was playing on the old cassette player of pur green 1982 Lada Riva, sounded as it it was coming from afar. The rhythmic sound of the guitar mixed with the hum of the car going up the mountain road as snow -covered evergreeb trees sped past. My dad delibertely jerked the steering wheel left and right, causing the car to skid and spin toward the shoulders of the road covered with huge deposits of snow, while we nearly split our sides laughing. I was happy

I remebr U2 in a VW Golf as we crossed germany years ago.

This is a slice of Bildungsroman that follows our narrator as he grows up from being seven when he first here Michael Jackson thriller remember the video which was a nod to the 80s horror genre of films what follows is a memoir of sorts that ties the music of each year to the growing up of our narrator from the USA to Africa song the following year the end year of Tito reign is seen through the young boy’s eyes. the last few years after the Winter Olympics as the cracks slowly appeared as the country of Yugoslavia becomes a collection of what is now six republics. He was listening to songs by U2 and Simple Mind’s accompanied his memories of the time. Those little memories like a thing alike the design of a cigarette packet was maybe a nod to the future graphic designer. The turn of the nineties saw him in Skopje as he had hoped to return to his home town but as events unfold he has to stay and start his life in Macedonia. What follows is his teen years I loved the music he picks most of which I remember and loved some I didn’t but it showed the power of music as a trigger to memories as he start to publish his first books.

The Guitar on U”‘s “Numb”, catching the world unprepared. Music became a thumping heartbeat, a machine propeller, a car engine … I listened to ant thought about my Einstürzende Neubauten, who’d been making music like that for years … it seemed that opop rock music was evolving and catching up with rap, which was always experimenting. Insane ion the Brain by the timeless Cypress hill and Bacdafucup by the short lived Onyx breathed new life into the scene, whil Body coubt blended metal with rap was a challenging concept. my heavy metal friends teased me for doing it, but hey , that’s a completely different story.

I remember all these I missed seeing EN when they keft a U2 tour early back in the day.

I enjoyed this book I like a bildungsroman as a genre of fiction. So whatever the time and place the is always some connection to our own years of growing up and Brankop choice of music is such a great way to connect to our past what I re3member as ai read is not just Bramko characters memories which is a thinly veiled of the writers own life. Songs Like U2 remind me of my time in Germany, Nirvana I remember drunkenly watching the shambolic first tv appearance on The Word then lastly Chop Suey which My best friend loved and his young daughter danced to all those years ago. This is a short read as Peirene call a movie book a book to read instead of a movie and here it will bring you memories if you are my age of the songs and the times I worked with a number of refugees at the time the Balkans fell apart so could connect to Brankos memories I work with a lad that had grown up in Sarajevo and was in German in the early nites a story similar to the story of the character and many at the time. Do you remember these years and does music connect you to memories? Another hidden gem from Dalkey.

Winstons score A – A Bildungsroman that is a thinly veiled story of the writers own history

Alma Mahler by Sasho Dimoski

 

alma mahler fc

Alma Mahler by Sasho Dimoski

Macedonian fiction

Original title – Alma Mahler

Translator – Paul Filev

Source personal copy

I found this book when looking around recent books that had been brought out by Dalkey Archive. I have been a fan of there books for a while as they are always trying to find new places to bring books from. So when I saw Macedonia was one of the countries they had just bought a book out from there I had to try it. Sasho Dimoski has written three novels and studied comparative literature in Skopje and is currently working as a Dramatist. This is his first book to be translated into English.

We had time, Gustav. Time stood still when we weren’t in it. It came to a halt, and nothing took place here or elsewhere. Nothing. We always had time. Always. Every wrong righted in the present, and smoothed over for the future. Every unspoken word for every innermost place within the soul, for every rise and fall within it.Every you and every I, for the various forms the days took, and that slumbered at night. And whenwe awakened our time, you and I always knew that n the other side of the looking glass stands the unkown. Something only we two could know, That we still know. And that we live today, in thwese final days that I drag along like shackles.

An undercurrent of her silence and growing unease is here

This book follows the life of the wife of the composer Gustav Mahler. Alma Mahler married him late in his life they were married for nine years this book describes those years just before his death. It uses his symphony as a guide for the chapters. we see their marriage from her point of view. She was a talented composer and a woman that in many ways must have been a muse she later Married the founder of the Bauhaus movement and the writer Franz Werfel. She was also painted by the other Gustav Klimt (that crops up in the book). What we see is the power struggle of a clever woman forced into the shadows and with a husband that at times is so wound up in his music that he doesn’t see her at times. She puts at one point she gave up long ago and now lives day to day. Late on he reveals she was every to him but she didn’t know when he falls ill after his ninth working on his tenth symphony.

There is something I must tell you, Gustav

I Fell in love with the idea of being Alma Mahle. Then I fell in love with you

Assurances? No. What kind of assurances are you talking about? I could have had that from any number of men. Indeed, I did have it from quite a few. I reveled in your greatness, which I later came to learn largely meant profound sorrow.Immencse lonliness. Great effort. Considerable. Numerous sacrifices. Umpteen missed birthdays, countless significant dates forgotten, unshared beds. Symphonies concerts, different towns, changing residences, searching for new homes, suitcases, makeup, tears, silence, sadnees,silence, tears, make up, grief, suitcase, anguish, sorrow!

That silence again her looking back on wanting to be his wife, but regretting it for the missed reasons.

This is a short book. sixty pages of a poem like prose. It is one of those books that defy being place in a pigeonhole a prose poem, a novella and it also has music notations in places of each symphony also a strong feeling of a monologue. In an interview in Bosnian, I translated on google the writer talks about the silence in the book. There is many spaces and also the silence of the love between them and the silence in the music. as he says the silence that stands against the music. this is a book about the gaps in their relationship in a way a great mind and a woman of great will silenced, she had written music but early on she shows she now lives in his shadow. An interesting intro to Macedonian lit. I understand this has been made into a stage show. In the Bosnian interview, he is asked about the theatre in Macedonian Lit. For me it would work well as a monologue piece the vice of Alma comes through in the text I could see it working as a stage piece.

December 2021
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