Blesok no. 63, November-December, 2008
Getting Woven In the Knitted Threads
Reading "Ešerove petlje" by Zoran Živković, Belgrade: Geopoetika, 2008
I have impatiently waited for the new novel of one of my favorite authors Zoran Živković. My intuition (?) told me that it would be something new and unusual. I had the chance to read a small part of it, and the title I had known from before promised a good journey. Maurice Cornelius Escher for those who know him as such is one of the graphic designers, artists who merge the world of magic and imaginary in the black and white, thus directly influencing my consumption of art in general. His impossible structures, as they call them, are an excellent background for creation. Taking his graphics as inspiration, as a scheme on which he would build the structure of his new novel, Zoran Živković directly builds on his personal poetics. If game and riddles had been the basis of his literary matrix before, now he entered an even more mysterious part, where the riddles are interwoven as a fine texture of a precious material. Directly quoting the source of the construction in the title of his novel, at the same time, as any skilful master, luring us in several directions, Živković gives us an unusual opportunity to contribute to the creation of the novel ourselves, in the possibility to untie the threads ourselves or entwine them even more.
The four large threads are woven on more than three hundred pages, each with its own characters who, not by accident, are characters from the previous thread, characters and events that had been mentioned and are interconnected. In the first thread the connection is via an unusual memory, so where one starts, the second continues, the latter being part of the third and so on until it comes back to the first one, and in the second there is telling of stories which are also connected, each story being a story within a story, and so on until the next thread. The third thread is directly connected with suicides, more specifically the stories on suicides and the old lady in green, who, together with the gentleman in white would be the key to resolving the riddle, which would be hinted in the fourth thread, fully led by dreams. Taking into consideration all of these four elements – memory, stories, suicides, dreams, and the characters of the lady in green and the gentleman in white, we have the opportunity to only start the weaving, because somewhere at the end of the novel Zoran Živković returns us to the beginning again, without giving us the chance to make sure if we had undid ourselves in the proper way or not. Or maybe it does not matter how and if we had undid. Maybe it is more important to accept the game, and similarly to Escher's graphics, one thread leads to another, and the latter leads to a new and unknown one.
Each of the characters has a story of his own, closely connected to the one of the other character, and they are all led by a special feature. Even in the last thread, when each character tells his dream, and the other characters directly have some surreal experience in crucial point – hospital, prison, shooting row… the characters are not only disconnected in the previous stories, which would be a banal and simple solution, but they make even bigger riddles – what should be left in the case of the gentleman in white and the lady in green, which directly reminded me of the characters of another of my favorite books – “Alice in Wonderland”.
The game with the art, the game with the riddles and fantastic ate the basic matrix in Živković's prose. This is an extremely important fact because we have the chance to play with all arts on one spot, all joined in a common goal – it's important to play!!!
The way in which the story was led shows how one becomes a complex author fully focused on the literature in itself starting from the need to set fantastic coordinates, via the way of synthesis followed in his previous work.
I have much more to say about this book, tell about it, but I will leave it to every reader to undo the threads himself and will once again point out that it is a shame that the Macedonian literary public does not want to discover the complex imaginary way of writing of Živković in translation; it reminds of Borges's The Library of Babel, however, spiced even more with something very important – the knowledge of the secrets related to literature, similarly to the great esoteric wisdoms kept for centuries. I honestly recommend this book for reading!
Translated by: Elizabeta Bakovska