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Our Circus Presents (Romanian Literature…
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Our Circus Presents (Romanian Literature Series)

by Lucian Dan Teodorovici

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Every morning, the narrator of the book climbs out onto the ledge outside his window and hopes that the urge to jump will overtake him. So far it hasn’t. Besides that, his life is empty and meaningless. He has a couple friends who are also obsessed with suicide. He waits for the telephone to ring. He treats his ex-girlfriend poorly and often thinks about women when he’s not thinking of suicide, but in a demeaning way. But one day he sees another man about to commit suicide, hauls him to the hospital and finds his life changed. All sorts of bizarre events occur over the next few days – his new friend and failed suicide moves in, they fight with railway workers, encounter several prostitutes, are questioned by the police and run into numerous angry, irritating, aimless neighbors, fellow would-be suicides, and strangers.

The translation is smooth and very readable. There is plenty of black humor and some horrible but funny set-pieces – the best one has the narrator’s friend, another man who obsesses over suicide, calling him up to come over to watch him drink himself to death. This morbid situation turns even bleaker but in a darkly funny manner. However, there are plenty of aimless bits and most of the characters are fairly irritating. The narrator’s desire for suicide – or lack of desire – isn’t explored too much. He seems to have adolescent fantasies and is annoyed when his also-suicidal friends marry or get good jobs or move on. The narrator has a rather sexist outlook on life – one could attribute it to him instead of the author, but it was still unpleasant to read. The female characters are pretty much prostitutes or older women whose desire is seen by the narrator as pathetic. Despite that, he relates at length several sexual episodes that end with him being humiliated. The book ends with a darkly ironic turn which is also an appropriate whimper. Interesting, but not a must-read. ( )
2 vote DieFledermaus | Jan 6, 2013 |
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