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The Street Of Crocodiles (1992)

The Street of Crocodiles (1992)
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4.19 of 5 Votes: 5
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0140186255 (ISBN13: 9780140186253)
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English
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penguin classics
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The Street Of Crocodiles (1992)
The Street Of Crocodiles (1992)

About book: PrefaceThis volume contains two collections of short stories and three additional stories that were originally published with Schulz's letters, drawings and miscellaneous prose.I'll review each of the collections separately under their GR titles.After only two or three stories, I started having really vivid responses, which I turned into a story. I normally place any creative responses to a book at the end of my more analytical review. However, this time, I'll reverse the order, so that the review doesn't pre-empt what I was trying to achieve with the story.The Mannequin in the House[Inspired by the Life and Works of Bruno Schulz]My grandfather and I were the first to awake that morning. When I came down from my room, he was already in the study, reading the arts pages of the weekend newspaper. My family were tailors, but my grandfather loved to read. He usually read the news and politics on Saturday, and the arts pages on Sunday, when he had more time.I hadn't meant to wake up that early. I quickly became restless. It wasn't light yet, and my grandfather had only turned on a reading light next to his chair. He was always conscious of conserving energy and money. His thrift had served him and our family well, I suppose.Grandfather saw that I was fidgety, and went into the kitchen. He gave me some coins from the old money tin, and suggested I go to the bakery and buy some pastries for breakfast. When I closed the front door behind me, it was already starting to get light. I remember the streetlights turning off as I rounded the corner. Then I noticed a lot of vehicles and men in uniform. I tried not to look at them. I don't know how closely they looked at me, but they didn't try to stop me.By the time I returned to the corner with our pastries, they had blocked the street. There were fire engines at the corner, but they weren't letting them in. The firemen were pointing down the street, agitated, but the men in uniform were holding them back. When I got close enough to look down our street, I could see that four houses on our side of the street were on fire. They were all in the same block, and one of them belonged to our family. I strained to hear anything above the roar of the fire. I thought I heard screams, but nobody emerged from any of the buildings. A few times, I thought I heard gunshots.I didn't know what to do. Nobody who passed me in the street looked me in the eye. It was as if I wasn't there, as if I too must have died in the fire.I decided to walk to my uncle's home. It was a kilometre away.When I arrived there, he was already in his car with my aunt and my two cousins."What's happening?" I asked."They're coming for us. We have to leave immediately, or they will kill us, too."They had a few possessions in the car with them, but not many.We had to go near our home to get out of the city. I asked if I could have a look at it one last time. My aunt and uncle discussed the risks on the way there. As we got near the corner, I realised that the men in uniform were nowhere to be seen. The street was empty, apart from the fire engines. I was allowed to walk down to the remains of our home with my oldest cousin, Rudy.The houses had been three storeys high, and each of them had fallen inwards. Even before I thought about everything my family had lost, including their lives, I can still remember that my first reaction was how little is left of a home when it is destroyed by fire. The pile of rubble didn't even come up to my head.Rudy started to tug at my hand, and I realised that we had to go, before it was too late. I took one last look, and it was then that I saw one of grandfather's mannequins. Somehow it didn't seem to have been damaged at all. I looked at it, and it looked at me, and we said our goodbyes, for the time being.I think they had intended to clear the whole neighbourhood, and rebuild new residences there, but when I returned eighteen months later after the war had ended, nothing had changed. Even the mannequin was poking out of the top of the rubble, looking at me. I went up to it, lifted it upright, and brushed off the ash and dust. It now stood proud above the rubble.I assume this was the moment it resumed its work for my family.The men in uniform had never made their way to my aunt and uncle's home, and I returned there with them. Each day, they let me visit our home. I think they assumed that I would one day put it behind me. They were as surprised as I was when I told them what had happened the following days. Each day I returned, a storey of our home seem to be re-constructed, by itself, where previously there had only been rubble.By the third day, it seemed to be complete, so for the first time, I entered our home, and discovered that it was exactly as I had left it. It was as if this pile of rubble, this empty space, had memorised our home, and given the opportunity, it had rebuilt it from memory.But that is only the first part of my story.I moved back into my room. Rudy was allowed to join me as company. But I always had a feeling that the house was watching us. Now that it existed, it was trying to reconstruct its life, too.One Saturday morning, I came downstairs, went to the bakery, and when I returned, I noticed somebody sitting in the study with a newspaper. It was my grandfather. He asked whether I had got him his usual rugelach. I'm sure that I had only ordered enough pastries for Rudy and me, but when I looked into the paper bag, I realised I had enough food for the entire family. I assembled it all on a plate on the dining table.Then, as I waited, one by one, my whole family descended from above and said hello, as if nothing had happened.I was only fourteen, but I noticed that everybody looked to me for guidance. I didn't know why or what for. Soon I seem to have re-established all of our family routines, because it was expected of me. One that mattered to all of us was evening supper. No matter who had been home for dinner, we all gathered for an hour or so before going to bed. It was when we listened to everybody's stories about what they had done that day or in the past.The first evening, my grandfather asked, "Can you remember one of my stories?" Well, of course I could, I had sat in his lap for years, memorising his stories as if, one day, when I had grandchildren, they might seem like my stories. One by one, over the next few weeks, I told everybody's stories. Initially, they just nodded in agreement. Occasionally, somebody else said, "That's a good one."Then one day, at supper, nobody looked at me with their usual expectation. Instead, grandfather started by telling a story, then my father said, "Funny, that reminds me," and he told one of his stories.After a while, as I had become accustomed to, I said, "OK, it's time we all went off to bed."Everybody looked at me with bemusement. I was, after all, the youngest in the room. Then they laughed. I looked over to the corner of the dining room, and noticed that even the mannequin was laughing.To this day, we don't go to bed, until each of us has told one of our stories.Darkness and LightI first became aware of Bruno Schulz, when I read one of my favourite novels, Nicole Krauss' "The History of Love", which I highly recommend. By the time I got around to reading Schulz's book, I was aware that its original Polish title had been "Cinnamon Shops". I didn't know much else about the subject matter of the book.For me, both alternative titles summon up exotic images of Jewish life between the wars. I expected the stories to flesh out these images. I had no idea how thoroughly and profoundly they would do so, but not in the manner I had anticipated.There is a lot of darkness and light in the collection.The darkness describes the interior of the narrator's second-floor apartment. The light describes the sun-lit world outside, often described as luminous, that offers up its fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood for consumption. People and music move between these worlds. The apartment can become light, just by pulling the curtains.Although the darkness and light is grounded in reality, there is a sense in which it is metaphorical, even metaphysical, and in this way it seems to be prescient of the horror of the Holocaust.Cinnamon ShopsI had assumed that the cinnamon shops would describe the outlets of "truly noble" merchants from which the characters would purchase their groceries (and books). They do, but the reason for this title is not so much the exotic spices that are on sale, or their smell, but the colour of the timber panelling on the walls. Many of my favourite European-style restaurants and cafes share this cinnamon appearance. It will now have far greater significance for me.These buildings are not brand new. They are old, they carry history on their shoulders and in their bones. This is Aunt Agatha's home, for example:"In the gloom of the hall, with its old lithographs, rotten with mildew and blind with age, we rediscovered a well-known smell. In that old familiar smell was contained a marvellously simple synthesis of the life of those people, the distillation of their race, the quality of their blood, and the secret of their fate, imperceptibly mixed day by day with the passage of their own, private time."The buildings don't just reflect and preserve Jewish culture and tradition, they keep it alive, apparently both metaphorically and literally.Still, like all matter, they form part of a process of gradual decline and decay.The paragraph continues:"The old, wise door, the silent witness of the entries and exits of mother, daughters, sons, whose dark sighs accompanied the comings and goings of those people, now opened noiselessly like the door of a wardrobe, and we stepped into their life."I was starting to get the impression that the narrator's world observes and memorises us, that it has human traits.So Very RemoteLike the building, the narrator's eccentric father, Jacob, is "slowly fading, wilting before our eyes."His personality is disintegrating into "a number of opposing and quarrelling selves [which] dissolved into curses, execrations, maledictions, and insults [after which came] a period of appeasement, of an interior calm, a blessed serenity of spirit." Jacob resides on the borderline between immobility and animation. He surrounds himself with old junk and oddities. He lives deep inside his own imagination, "almost completely rid of bodily needs...":"We did not count him as one of us anymore, so very remote had he become from everything that was human and real. Knot by knot, he loosened himself from us; point by point, he gave up the ties joining him to the human community...[All that remained of him was] the small shroud of his body and the handful of nonsensical oddities."Jacob is almost metamorphosing into the other world of buildings.The Metaphysical ConjurerThe building is almost human, while Jacob has almost become part of the furniture. The concept of this metamorphosis might sound Kafkaesque, but its design and application is unique to Schulz.Still, within the enchantment of his imagination, Jacob has a kingdom and a throne, that together constitute a sovereign magic, although this too is bound to be taken away from him.Jacob is a "metaphysical conjurer", opposed to the ordinary, the uniform, the unimaginative, the dull, the conformist, the compliant, the complicit:"Only now do I understand the lonely hero who alone had waged war against the fathomless, elemental boredom that strangled the city. Without any support, without recognition on our part, that strangest of men was defending the lost cause of poetry. He was like a magic mill..."The life of the imagination battles against both the uniform and uniforms. The Humus of MemoriesJacob marvels at how beautiful and simple life is:"The newly awakened joy of life transformed every sensation into a great joke, into gaiety...an attempt to express the incredible wonder of that capital enterprise, life, so full of unexpected encounters, pleasures, and thrills."In "Tailors' Dummies", paradoxically, humans have become like automatons, while the mannequins have acquired a pseudo-life, their source of sustenance "old apartments saturated with the emanations of numerous existences and events; used-up atmospheres, rich in the humus of memories, of nostalgia, and of sterile boredom."At a time in history when we would hope that mankind would be most vital, it is actually in retreat.Apocrypha and PalimpsestsIn the absence of any other guide, Jacob is mapping the psyche of the Street of Crocodiles, this other world "of which almost nothing is known". It proves to be as complicated and mortal as any human being:"[Apartments like this are] unstable, degenerate, and receptive to abnormal temptations: it is then that on this sick, tired, and wasted soil colourful and exuberant mildew can flourish in a fantastic growth, like a beautiful rash."Still, for all this transgression, the outside world impinges on the Street of Crocodiles:"The women of the Street of Crocodiles are depraved to only a modest extent, stifled by thick layers of moral prejudice and ordinary banality. In that city of cheap human material, no instincts can flourish, no dark and unusual passions can be aroused."In Freudian terms, the outside world is still a place where the Id is oppressed by the Super-Ego.The Street of Crocodiles is some sort of reprieve, even if it must be a product of the imagination:"The Street of Crocodiles was a concession of our city to modernity and metropolitan corruption. Obviously, we were unable to afford anything better than a paper imitation, a montage of illustrations cut out from last year's moldering newspapers."The Indispensable MinimumJacob has but one complaint about creation. He calls for"Less matter, more form!"He speculates that there might be too much matter and complexity. This excess is wasted. It has ceased to be beautiful. It has become ugly.He decides to experiment on his brother. He commits to "a gradual shedding of all his characteristics in order to lay bare his deepest self...[He] reduced Uncle to the indispensable minimum, by removing from him one by one all of the inessentials..."Uncle functioned excellently. There was no instance of his refusal to obey. Having discarded his complicated personality, in which at one time he had lost himself, he found at last the purity of a uniform and straightforward guiding principle to which he was subjected from now on. "At the cost of his complexity, which he could manage only with difficulty, he had now achieved a simple problem-free immortality."The Ultrabarrel of MythWas Uncle happy? Not really:"A question like this makes sense only when applied to creatures who are rich in alternative possibilities...Uncle Edward had no alternatives; the dichotomy 'happy/unhappy' did not exist for him because he had become completely integrated."Ultimately, Jacob realises that he has been working against an eternal, cosmic order:"He understood that he had gone too far, and put a rein on the flight of his fancies...The enormous pathos of all these scenes proved that we had removed the bottom of the eternal barrel of memories, of an ultrabarrel of myth, and had broken into a prehuman night of untamed elements, of incoherent anamnesis, and could not hold the swelling flood."Perhaps both chaos and complexity are vital aspects of life.Jacob's CosmologyJacob's theories take us through a cosmological journey, from the atom to the universe.Mankind fits somewhere in between. The wonder of this collection of stories is that it paints a picture of people in real life, while simultaneously speculating on their position in the cosmos.At the same time, it seems to anticipate the conflict between the Jewish people and Nazism that would lead to the Holocaust.There is a sense in which Jewish culture already seemed to be under threat by the conformism and intolerance of Western culture. Jacob uses his imagination to combat this threat. This was a difficult enough task. However, nobody could have anticipated how difficult the task of combatting Nazism would be.Bruno Schulz didn't survive the combat. He died for the most banal of reasons. They're detailed in the Introduction.We're incredibly fortunate that these stories survived and that they contribute to our understanding of the Holocaust and mankind.In a way, the survival of these stories helps us to deal with the Holocaust.However, the Introduction informs us that, just as Bruno Schulz died in the Holocaust, so too did his novel called "The Messiah".The tragedy is that a book can only work its magic, if it survives the calamity of its era.Whatever the tragedy of losing both the author and his novel, it makes us doubly fortunate that we still have "The Street of Crocodiles".

Each of us readers builds a private library with the books and bits and pieces we have read: consisting of fragments, indexed by hope and despair, by feeling and intellect, by inexplicable alignment of causes and effects, the unaccountable puzzles of our lives. In reading and re-reading we flick through our internal shelves, unconsciously making associations, contrasts and comparisons, arranging and rearranging preferences, growing what could be a Library of Babel to the uninitiated, that is, everyone else.Take this passage from The Street of Crocodiles for an example:“But on the other side of the fence, behind that jungle of summer in which the stupidity of weeds reigned unchecked, there was a rubbish heap on which thistles grew in wild profusion. No one knew that there, on that refuse dump, the month of August had chosen to hold that year its pagan orgies."The poetic impression, present throughout the book, was enforced by a wispy association, a connection borne out of a similar evocation, with another poet whom I read in my youth. I scoured my books for two suspected sources: The Last Summer, and Safe Conduct: An Autobiography and Other Writings by Boris Pasternak. Both books have provided me years of companionship, read and reread in my early years; both battered and yellowed now, the latter's pages freed from the binding. It took me days to locate a reference in Babette Deutsch’s introduction of Safe Conduct, in a sentence that points to yet another work by the Russian poet: Doctor Zhivago, within which the poem "March" is located.“Everything wide open, stables and cowshed,Pigeons peck up oats from the snow,And the lifegiver and culprit of it all—Dung—smells of fresh air.”Even here, I find the oddity or aptness of the association – Schulz’s prose vis-à-vis Pasternak’s invented hero’s poem – striking. Bruno Schulz was possessed of that admirable and enviable touch as described by Shloma, the mischief maker, in The Age of Genius: “the world has passed through your hands in order to renew itself, in order to molt in them and shed its scales like a wonderful lizard.” Notably, both Schulz and Pasternak were admirers of yet another great writer and poet: Rainer Maria Rilke. The Street of Crocodiles is a veritable poetry in prose, and the keen reader feels as if some unfamiliar chords are being plucked to accompany the music emanating from the pages. Schulz strikes and stuns, as John Updike said of his writing. Schulz delights.But who is Bruno Schulz? I confess my ignorance about him and his works, namely: The Street of Crocodiles / Cinammon Shops (1934) and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass (1937). Only recently I am able to rectify this error, this deprivation of the mind and senses.Bruno Schulz was born to Jewish parents on 1892 in Drohobycz in South Eastern Poland. He studied in the Polish Gymnasium and spoke both Polish and German. The war broke off Schulz's study of architecture, but he continued to draw and produce graphics and later on became an art teacher at the local school. For a long time he concealed his literary efforts. The Street of Crocodiles started with letters sent to the poet Devora Vogel, who encouraged his writing. Its publication in 1934 was helped by the novelist Zofia Nalkowska, after some years of resistance by publishers. Despite the enthusiastic reception of his first book, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass was published only after three years. An unfinished novel, entitled Messiah, was among the artworks and manuscripts in packages he sent to non-Jewish friends for safekeeping after Germany invaded Ukraine in 1941 (Drohobycz was absorbed into Soviet Ukraine after the Nazi-Soviet partition of Poland in 1939). In November 19, 1942, some 150 passersby on the streets of Drohobycz were murdered by the SS and the Gestapo, Bruno Schulz, 50, among the victims. His body was buried in a cemetery that no longer exists; his hidden works were lost in the madness of those years; the Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass constitute his oeuvre.In essence, both books draw from the same wellspring of creation, the mythmaking realm of childhood. This same source sheds light to his works, which are poetic essences of his autobiography.About The Street of Crocodiles, Schulz expounded: “It is an autobiography – or rather, a genealogy – of the spirit… since it reveals the spirit’s pedigree back to those depths where it merges with mythology, where it becomes lost in mythological ravings. I have always felt that the roots of the individual mind, if followed far enough down, would lose themselves in some mythic lair. This is the final depth beyond which one can no longer go.”For Schulz, Rilke served as a model, whose book(s) “is a pledge that the tangled, mute masses of things unformulated within us may yet emerge to the surface miraculously distilled.” Both emphasized the importance of silence, of solitude “as the catalyst that brings reality to fermentation, to the precipitating out of figures and colors.” (Schulz)Here I wish to venture that Schulz’s process of “Mythologizing Reality” gazes back and compares itself with the methods of Cesar Aira, as sublimated in the Argentinian’s prolific works. Both recognized the importance of childhood or that root of creation from where artists receive their sustenance for their art to bloom. For Schulz, the images gained in the mythic lair of childhood ”constitute a program, a fixed fund of capital, which is allotted to us very early in the form of inklings and half-conscious feelings.” “These early images mark the boundaries of an artist’s creativity. His creativity is a deduction from assumptions already made. He cannot now discover anything new; he learns only to understand more and more the secret entrusted to him at the beginning, and his art is a constant exegesis, a commentary on that single verse that was assigned to him.” (Schulz)For Aira, childhood provides “immediate absorption of reality, which mystics and poets strive for in vain”. “Everything after that is inevitably and impoverishment.”In his essay on Bruno Schulz (1), J.M. Coetzee said Schulz’s views on the task of the poet, based on the essay The Mythologizing of Reality, is “thinking which is itself mythic rather than systematic in its operations.” In contrast with a scientist’s patient, methodical and inductive quest for knowledge, the poet seeks the same ends “intuitively, deductively, with large, daring short cuts and approximations”.“The inner life of the word consists in ‘tensing and stretching itself towards a thousand connections, like the cut-up snake in the legend whose pieces search for each other in the dark’. Systematic thought, by its nature, holds the parts of the snake apart to examine them; the poet, with his access to ‘old semantics’, allows the word-parts to find their place again in the myths of which all knowledge is constituted.”Aira, it seems to me, has married the myth to method, that is, he drinks from the same roots but allows for its rejuvenation through avant-garde procedures; while Schulz consumed unaided from the same source and so burdened it and himself in the process, as can be gleaned from the gradual heaviness of touch from his first work to the second. I am, of course, venturing pure conjecture. Also, notably, Schulz was not influenced by Surrealism, as Aira was.We could only guess how Schulz would have turned out artistically if his death did not put a stop to his “opening myself up to the world”. “The peculiarity and unusual nature of my inner processes sealed me off hermetically, made me insensitive, unreceptive to the world’s incursions.” Nevertheless, Schulz works retain their impressive vitality and surprise today, intimating one of the most original minds in literature.Coetzee also pointed out the similarities between the personal history of Schulz and Franz Kafka, but he expectedly dismissed the thoughts that relegates the former to a lesser position. Coetzee also clarified that it was Josefina Szelinska, Schulz’s former fiancée, who wrote the translation of Kafka’s The Trial published in 1936, for which Schulz wrote the afterword. “It is a measure of his confidence in his own powers that he could try to refashion Kafka in his own image,” Coetzee wrote. If I may offer a quick contrast: Schulz works are touched by delight, Kafka’s terror.In “Spring” in Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass, Schulz invites and entices with these words:“But we have not finished yet; we can go deeper. There is nothing to fear. Give me your hand, take another step: we are at the roots now, and at once everything becomes dark, spicy, and tangled like in the depth of a forest…We are here at the very bottom, in the dark foundations, among the Mothers. Here are the bottomless infernos, the hopeless Ossianic spaces, all those lamentable Nibe-lungs. Here are the great breeding grounds of history, factories of plots, hazy smoking rooms of fables and tales. Not at last one can understand the great and sad machinery of spring. Ah, how it thrives on stories, on events, on chronicles, on destinies! Everything we have ever read, all the stories we have heard and those we have never heard before but have been dreaming since childhood – here and nowhere else is their home and their motherland. Where would writers find their ideas, how would they master thee courage for invention, had they not been aware of these reserves, this frozen capital, these funds salted away in the underworld?”My friend, Bruno Schulz invites you to grow your library today. Today, July 12, is his 123rd birthday.1.tJ.M. Coetzee, “Bruno Schulz”, chap. 5 in Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 (London: Vintage, 2008), 65-78
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Reviews
Nathanimal
October 25, 2011I'm editing this review because the original was useless and devised from poor memory. Besides, I called it short stories. It's not. I don't know what it is, but not a short story collection. It's not a novel either. Like Winesburg, Ohio, a similar book in many ways, the book cares about describing a place and its people more than telling a story about it.I give Schulz license I don't give other writers; normally I'd be swatting at this flock of feathery words. (Angela Carter, I'm looking at you.) But the level of detail seems pertinent here. The Brothers Quay did a short film inspired by this book, a stop-motion animation, as they do. The mise en scène of that film is small-scale: rusty screws, saw dust, snagged thread. Close up you see a thick, scurfy texture you wouldn't otherwise see. What a perfect visual representation of The Street of Crocodiles! Towards the beginning Schulz describes trees that look as though they are stitched on an old tapestry. That's it: I'm reading, an inch in front of my nose, an old moth-eaten, gold-threaded, fantastical tapestry.I LOVE the grotesque characters: the idiot girl covered with flies; the beard-stroking Sanhedrin; the father: prophet, alchemist, cockroach. A metaphor for the entire book might be found in the father's bird collection. He goes to the loftiest most broken down part of the house, the attic (read: a state of mind) and there cultivates foreign, colorful, grotesque birds (read: the sentences that colonize the pages of this book).Oh, and though The Street of Crocodiles is a more marketable title, I do believe the original title, Cinnamon Shops, was better. These shops, full of outlandish dreck, sensually named by a child, pined for by an adult as a kind of lost kingdom, better embody the message of the book.
Nate D
Even in this volume's overture, "August", an insatiable suction into the hallucinatory blind-bright swarming-dark fetid verdant depths of summer, even then at the very start the sheer overcrowded prose-intensity of this "Polish Kafka" seemed to be surpassing anything I'd encountered from the primary Czech Kafka. And then it just goes from there, and goes and goes, through automatons and comets, labyrinths and stork-swarms. I've seen this sort of reeling mythic recollection attempted many times, but never so purely, so vividly, so hauntingly. This is astounding writing.Some quotes from the first bit, which is basically all one notable quote of dimly perfect fever-nostalgia at the hidden cusp of adolescence*:The dark second-floor appartment of the house in Market Square was shot through each day by the naked heat of summer: the silence of the shimmering streaks of air, the squares of brightness dreaming their intense dreams on the floor; the sound of a barrel organ rising from the deepest golden vein of day; two or three bars of a chorus, played on a distant piano over and over again, melting in the sun on the white pavement, lost in the fire of high noon. (p.3)But on the other side of the fence, behind that jungle of summer in which the stupidity of weeds reigned unchecked, there was a rubbish heap on which thistles grew in wild profusion. No one knew that there, on that refuse dump, the month of August had chosen to hold that year its pagan orgies. There pushed against the fence and hidden by the elders, stood the bed of the half-wit girl, Touya, as we all called her. On a heap of discarded junk of old saucepans, abandoned single shoes, and chunks of plaster, stood a bed, painted green, propped up on two bricks where one leg was missing. The air over that midden, wild with the heat, cut through by the lightning of shiny horseflies, driven mad by the sun, crackled as if filled with invisible rattles, exciting one to a frenzy. (p.6)In a straw-filled chest lay the foolish Maria, white as a wafer and motionless like a glove from which a hand had been withdrawn. And, as if taking advantage of her sleep, the silence talked, the yellow, bright, evil silence delivered its monolgue, argued, and loudly spoke its vulgar maniacal soliloquy. Maria's time -- the time imprisoned in her soul -- had left her and -- terribly real -- filled the room, vociferous and hellish in the bright silence of the morning, rising from the noisy mill of the clock like a cloud of bad flour, powdery flour, the stupid flour of madmen. (p.7)This is a review of just the stories first published as Street of Crocodiles; though I look forward to continuing shortly with his only other published book, also published here, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass.*do you ever find yourself trying to describe something in a pale shadow of its own terms? I can barely help it. Forgive my critical excesses here, they seem to be the irresistible aftereffect of a brush with Schulz's words.
Sinai
the famous story about bruno shultz is that he used to crumble cubes of suger during the winter and when his mother caught him doing this, he would explain his actions by saying "...so at least the flies will survive the winter!" when I heard this story, I had to read his book. The book is a collection of short stories, mostly centered around the narrator's father, as mentioned in previous reviews. I think any attempt to describe the father's charactor will not be able to do this accuratly so I will not even try. But I will say that whenever I read this book, I feel like every paragraph has more content and more depth then any normal bestseller novel. At times the book made me laugh out loud but it always felt like a somewhat sad and even tragic book. I am aware that perhaps most readers will find this book boring but I think that this is a book to be read (and enjoyed!) countless times.
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