Virtuosity by Daniel Cristea-Enache
Dumitru Crudu, Greetings to Trotsky, Publishing House „Univers”, Bucharest, 2016, page 160.
It's gratifying the fact (It is worth mentioning) that the volume of manuscripts which won the contest organized by a Romanian publishing house in 2015, is one of the stories. It may be a sign that the "short" genre is revitalizing, capturing the interest of readers and publishers, who through the law of demand and literary offer will motivate local writers to make new short stories.
It had become quite complicated for a writer to approach this pretentious genre, taking in consideration that our editorial market require, in the last decade, short story.
They say that short story is a pretentious genre, because the author who write them should have at least two skills: depth knowledge and linguistic detail in language in which they write their stories (especially, if these are included in a fictional and realistic regimen), and a rich literary culture. From Radu Cosasu to Razvan Petrescu (we do not mention classics such as Sadoveanu), this double conditioning is checking and illustrating. Once with fictional reality browsed quickly and intensively, the story or short story designs previous alternative of literary coding. Under "small" gestures of a character from the new story, which we read, there are whole literary chapters browsed also by the author, and by the approved lecturer. From this perspective, a story written by a cultural ignorant, an ingenue short story represents a contradiction in terms.
The second thing, which should be mentioned about the award and stories' book publication of Dumitru Crudu, is the author's age. He was born in 1967, the author of Greetings to Trotsky volume is no longer so youngish; but he is part of promotions affirmed after 1990, being a "product" of both systems, the old and the new one. An author who debuted with an editorial in the weather of market economy in the culture and published in 2016 stories of this caliber - this is a signal that other writers which are still young people can also do it.
In this contextual frame, but also independent of it, Greetings to Trotsky is an remarkable volume. Gabriela Gheorghisor used a significant (stronger, pithy) formula in her chronicle from România literară (Literary Romania) to define the author's technique: Blitzkrieg (narrative). Indeed, almost all texts in the book are well built and run(rolled up), quick, to points of realistic or absurd insolitar(fr.insolit absurde). One story some how longer, Don't shoot, becomes more grotesque as it advances; it was needed more textual space that the degradation relationship between elderly parents and their son well trained by his wife to be epically specified and fade. Dumitru Crudu can "do'' on equally level, very short texts. The reader expects "a clarification" of the situation or the conflict, but the story ends abruptly, without providing an explicit interpretive key. On re-reading, we find out that "the explanation" was in the story, dissipated in elements and its implied aspects.
Each story has epic autonomy and can be tasted apart from others - but together dozens of stories in the book are composing a fresco of Bessarabia itself separated from the Soviet Empire, disintegrated at the time of "that one with stain on the forehead" (for very young readers: it's Gorbachev). It's a relatively exotic world for Romanians "brothers" beyond the Prut, but enough natural for Bessarabians from other side. The error of perspective of some Bessarabian writers without talent was to present it in a language loaded with idioms, doubling in this way its exotic through a specific language (linquistique specificity). Crudu has done intelligently, shaking pages of unintelligible Bessarabian terms and phrases for us - and using standard language that through its "transparency", the Bessarabian relief could be better seen. (All is old and all is new: Calinescu eulogies writers like Sadoveanu and Creanga for their artistic instinct to not waste idioms.)
Under the transparent language and "neutral" from Greetings to Trotsky, life situations are more easily discernible(perceptible), and conflicts can be traced up(followed) to one point, in a realistic coherence. Writers and other socio-professional categories do not have too much money or too many things to lose, since they already lost almost everything. Memorable is a birthday with cottage cheese dumplings (ravioli), an atypical (unusual) story in the volume where the main character is feminine: a poor woman, who on her birthday, lives the joy to have bought some cottage cheese dumplings (she shortchanged the seller, cheating with the scales) and obtained a bucket of water (without paying). This time, the end was provided explicit and was characterized for the condition of most pensioners from both sides of the Prut’s shores (river):
"From the hallway(entrance hall) I heard water dripping in the kitchen. Splash-splash. I stripped off my clothes and entered in the kitchenette. From the tap, several water drops were detaching (coming off) and were tumbling into the bucket. I approached myself near the bucket and whistled happily. It was almost full.
Part of the water, I poured (spilled) into a saucepan, over cottage cheese dumplings, and I lit the fire into the stove. The drops continued to fall down in the bucket. I went to the water meter to see if revolves. No, it wasn't revolving (spinning), and I clapped happily. I was happy because I was using water, but I did not paid it already several months after I discovered this method how to shoot a sliver to those from Apă-canal (Water channel company).
More than in a good mood, I phoned Elizaveta Petrovna and I called her to come quickly, till cottage cheese dumplings were not cold. A birthday with cottage cheese dumplings and with Elizaveta Petrovna at the table. If my husband died and my daughter went to Canada, what else could I want for my birthday? Dumplings were good!"(page 64-65).
As Bessarabian leadership has led population to poverty and hopelessness, here's a happy woman that "shoots a sliver (shoot one's bristle) to those from the Apa-canal(Water Channel Organisation)". The volume abounds in "slivers" and other similar pitiful maneuvers; a whole series of characters enter into the category of such called famished (starving people); a more lucky subcategory is that one of stakeholders - and from all these circles, the social space from which has been cut Crudu's stories it is outlined and highlighted.
Logic, in such a framework, the collective character will be recurring: a protesters hand or mass, protesting even they do not know exactly for what conditions already, and who will not change through the protest. The atmosphere of the writer's volume, who was born in Flutura, resembles with that one of the 90 from us: the decade in which Romania counted a privileged class and mass of impoverished people in post-communist period. After the rally(mass meeting), it shows what happens in reality, besides the rallies in which, chanting, people have the illusion that something will change: "The mass meeting has ended and people has been scattered. People who came from distant districts moved forward in a hurry to their buses, unlike townspeople who left the square in even smaller groups and with reeling steps (with reluctant/flatering steps), as if not wishing to leave. And they did not want to go. The rally has finished and they hasn't had idea what to do next. How long they cried in the square, taking over the chanting (scansions) of their leaders, they had felt inspired. But now, the excitement had left and they crawled their feets from the square, disappointed and deflated. They would wanted that the mass meeting never ended and they could continue chanting in the square."(p. 42).
Majority of Crudu's characters have "riddled" pockets, except gangsters or those from social policy framework in which take place stories, either so properly called, being at the level of colleagues in post-revolutionary Romania. Before such successful exemplars (specimens), writers, painters, and in general, ravenous hunger ( or famished, starved, flemished) artists of Greetings to Trotsky go "in reverse gear". Confrontation had a predictable result. The famished (ravenous)character which was in the wrong place, escaped from being beaten only by throwing random, as in the titular story, the name of Trotsky "bouncers" (colossus) and "gorillas", " gadabout" "clevers (or dodgers)" and tattooed stalwarts with thick napes from the Kokos bar, with its "opaque and pink" windows. Kicked out from Kokos by the "bugbears" (hooters) who follow him to maim, the antiheroes was screaming "randomly" threatening them with Trotsky: magically, like to a password, he had been left alone.
But I will not summarize, for letting to the reader the pleasure of reading. The stories are read with the same interest, the writer has beside the sense of observation and realistic acuteness, also a rich prosaic palette. Dumitru Crudu has passed the test of virtuosity for short prose.
tr. Elena CHIRICA