Blesok no. 63, November-December, 2008
“The Claws” is in fashion
(The Claws, by Marko Vidojković)
Marko Vidojković's novel “The Claws” was in the centre of media attention, and literary critics had to express their attitude towards it, eventhough, in the beginning, they were denining the thesis by which Vidojković's novel could be considered artistic literature. “The Claws” has become a cult book of the generation of the nineties (those who were young in these years, but also those who were born in the nineties), with all the characteristics of that time: depression, desperation, alchololism, promiscuity, senseless life… The novel had a pompous TV commercial. It was announced as the “annals of the students′ protest”, as the “demonstrations diary”. Reffering to this, numerous and strictly bounded readers have been created.
Vidojković could not be determined as “an erudite writer”, but what he certanly is, is a multi–medial artist, raised on hard punk sound, he is the ex singer of a punk bend concentrated on the urban surrounding where he comes from, where he belongs, without an interest to come out of the field of interest. As he is, he writes about the things he knows and tells the story he experencied and that is why his story is convincing, dinamic and rapid. The language of the novel is verbal, colloquial, Belgrade slang. It defines subjects and situations brutally, roughly and cruelly, avoiding to be beyond that story and always staying its integral part, incapable to see it from any other point of view, but author′s and narrator′s I, which are most of the time in the novel indetically the same.
The novel has a quitesimplified composition: in fact, we could discuss a modern fairy-tale, the main carachter is a prince, and the main heroine is the princess. The modern fairy-tale in it's structure has the new wording: the princess has no long eye-lashes, the prince is inapprehensible, dark guy. His behavour is adolescent and he is a marijuana addict. The fairy tale has a Hichkoh-like atmosphere, the princess appears and disappears, and in the life of the prince the nightmares and reality are mixing, their boudaries not recognisible. An important subject is also the main character′s mother, the woman who was abandonded by her husband, who lives from nothing and passivly suppotts the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, who is the main bad and evil character of this fairy-tale.
Why do we here insist on the determination of a fairy-tale?
Precisely because, besides the structure of the novel, also the organization of the characters is the same as in fairy tales: there are the good ones, all people from the underground, who are against the regime, who are freezing on demonstrations, who make love, smoke marijuana on the atticks and there are the evil ones who support the regime, watch TV news, taking the sedatives, queing for bread and they do not protest. What they have in common is depression, and that is the basic feeling of this novel. As we are closer to the end of the balad, depression becomes more and more agressive and turns into open hatered for everyone who thinks differently from the main character and he stays alone, unhappy, iapprehensible and isolated, mocking the personal fairy-tale.
It is obvious that writer tackles the things that hurt him personally, has his own attitudes and beliefs and makes from the novel, that could be the meaningful chronicle of a time, a poltical pamflet blind with hatered for those who ruined his youth.
In Vidojković's novel there is no exit, no feeling of refinement, recognition of the fact that there was a sense in something, that something happend and that there are certain steps that should be taken.
“Claws” are the mine of defeatism and the nuclei of attack. “The Claws” are the declaration of the war that the main character wasn't able to finish and that is why he stays alone, not knowing how and against whom to fight and decides not to grow up.
And that is the key point for the popularity of this book among the reading audience: generation of the protest 1996-2000 want to compensate lost time but not knowing how. And that is why they stay stubbrnly in their caves, full of hatered and rage and the do not have the strength to turn it into something constructive, having the sense.
In Belgrade beeing inapprehensible and suffering from depression is in fashion.
So, “The Claws” is in fashion.