Hester Rd

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20140422-121724.jpgHester Rd, and in bed I read this, knowing that I have given London a lot, and what has it given in return? It hasn’t made me an art monster; it hasn’t made me a monster, either, which is something. I underline, on my Kindle, and now I go back to it, and I believe it, I believe her, Jenny Offill, hers is a very charming book: Dept. of Speculation.

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London: Kazuo i ja (hrvatski)

O ‘studiranju’ kreativnog pisanja svatko ima svoje mišljenje, i svi su u pravu. Jedna je činjenica ipak nepobitna: samo na takvom studiju mogla sam, u ovom uzburkanom Londonariumu, sresti sebi srodnu vrstu – amfibiju, razred: vodozemci sa čudnim porivom da pišu literarnu fikciju nakon što završe ‘pravi’ posao, onaj za koji ih netko plaća, ali za kojim im srce ne kuca.

Moje amfibije uglavnom pripadaju gradskom krugu koji izbjegava okupljanja izreklamiranih zvijezda. Oni vole samozatajna događanja o kojima se poslije, uz pint-of-pivo, može diskutirati je li vrijedilo. Jesu li dobili zlatni grumen mudrosti da ga strpaju u džep za biti-ili-ne-biti trenutak?

Preko te grupe ugurala sam se na već popunjeni razgovor u Bloomsburyju sa Kazuom Ishigurom, organiziran u okviru susreta sa dobitnicima Man Booker nagrade za književnost.

Kazuo Ishiguro jedan je od onih srećnika čijem su pisanju kritičari već od njegovog prvog romana pristupili dobronamjerno – i te svoje dobre namjere sa zadovoljstvom potvrdili – a čije su knjige prevođene, kupovane i čitane po cijeloj planeti , pa pretvorene u filmove što su punili kino dvorane i pobirali nagrade: ‘Ostaci dana’, recimo; i noviji ‘Nikad me ne ostavljaj’.

Kasnije sam otkrila zašto je on simpatičan i mojim vodozemcima: dok bez ikakve gestikulacije govori o sebi i svojim knjigama, Mr. Ish (sufiks za neodređenost u engleskom jeziku, a.k.a. Ishigurov omiljeni nadimak) ostaje elegantno nenametljiv kao i kada piše. ‘Nevidljivog autora’ prosječna publika može mnogo duže podnijeti. ‘Nevidljivi autor’ svoje slušatelje, baš kao ni svoje čitatelje, ne napada punokrvnom osobnošću – za razliku od Hilary Mantel ili Howarda Jacobsona (da se zadržim na Bookerovcima). Istim je nenapornim, distanciranim tonom Mr. Ish pobrojao i greške u svojim knjigama, dodavši da ipak ništa ne bi mijenjao za neka nova izdanja jer – tako je razmišljao i pisao u to vrijeme. I on je studirao kreativno pisanje, na East Anglia univerzitetu, davno još, kaže, kada se na to gledalo kao na pomodni uvoz, pokušaj imitacije američke ‘Radionice pisaca’ sa univerziteta u Iowi.

Ish my dish,’ komentirala je Harumi, moja rođena Londonka japanskih korijena. ‘Kazuo je prava banana.’

Bacih pogled na njenu čašu sa pićem. ‘Jesi li sigurna da ti je unutra samo tonik?’ upitah.

‘Nije to ništa uvrijedljivo,’ rekla je. ‘I ja sam banana. Oboje smo izvana Orijentalci, to jest žuti, a iznutra ne sasvim bijeli, ali nešto između.’

Ishiguro, rođeni Japanac, i autor jednog od najbritanskijih romana svih vremena (‘Ostaci dana’), Haruminu je opasku potvrdio i u tijeku kratkog razgovora za koji sam se izborila iznenađujući sebe, ali i gosta večeri, količinom odlučnosti kojom se ustrijemih prema iznenada upražnjenoj stolici pored njega.

I dalje pribran, jednostavan poput svog crnog odijela, naizgled nije mario što mu ni knjigu nisam donijela na potpis.

Rođen 1954. u Japanu, Mr. Ish u Englesku je stigao kao petogodišnjak.

‘Otac je majku i mene doveo ovdje, navodno zbog posla. Radio je za Oceanografski zavod. Samo na dvije godine, obećao nam je, koliko bude trajalo ispitivanje voda Sjevernog mora. Onda je produžio na još dvije, pa još dvije . . . Živjeli smo u Guildfordu, nikada potpuno ne uranjajući u engleski mentalitet i način života. Ostali smo promatrači, iako se, kao obitelj, više nismo vratili u Japan. Svo to vrijeme moj otac, oceanograf, nijedanput nije otišao niti blizu oceanu. To mi je uvijek bilo sumnjivo. Često sam ga htio pitati o tom njegovom čudnom poslu oceanografa bez oceana. Ipak, nisam ga pitao.’

Čini se da su baš takvi ljudi, oni koji se u pravi tren ne usude postaviti pravo pitanje, glavni likovi njegova dva najpoznatija romana: Stevens, batler u ‘Ostacima dana’, i Kathy, pripovjedačica-klon u ‘Nikad me ne ostavljaj’.

‘Da, doista, sada kada to čujem, zvuči kao dobro opažanje. Ipak, nije to bila moja namjera. Svaki roman počinjem kreiranjem likova koji mi se na neki način jave: možda sam ih negdje sreo, ili posudio od samoga sebe iz rada na prethodnoj knjizi. Nakon što svakom liku dam biografiju i glas, organiziram svojevrsnu audiciju za naratora. O tome tko dobije glavnu ulogu, ovise stil, put i tema knjige.’

Oko teme nisam htjela nagađati. ‘Postoji li neka velika tema kojom ste zaokupljeni?’ pitala sam, vjerujući da bi, ako postoji, to bila obrada svojevrsne hipnoze zatvorenih društava koja polagano umrtvljuju svoje pripadnike. I opet bih pogriješila. Odgovor je bio mnogo intimniji.

‘Zaokupljen sam težnjom, svojstvenom samo ljudskim bićima, da damo određenu dozu dostojanstva i smisla onome u čemu smo dobri. Ne mora to biti umjetnost. Stevens je bio dobar batler, Kathy dobra njegovateljica. Oboje su bili ponosni na to, pronašli u tome smisao svog postojanja. Zaokupljen sam i individualnom i kolektivnom memorijom; borbom pojedinaca, ali i cijelih država, da kontroliraju sjećanja.’

‘Hoćete li se u nekoj od sljedećih knjiga, barem sjećanjem, vratiti Japanu?’

‘Nisam vam ja nikakav ekspert za Japan,’ rekao je pisac. ‘Moj je japanski jezik u biti neprikladan, zastario, jer to je jezik moje majke iz doba kada žene, na primjer, nisu koristile zamjenicu ‘ja’. Taj se jezik ‘čuje’ ispod mojeg pisanja na engleskom, i zato je možda čitaocima moj stil interesantan, umirujući. A Japan koji poznam tek je sjećanje na rano djetinjstvo, sačuvano u mojim prvim pričama i romanima.’

Kazuo Ishiguro trenutno piše još jedan scenario. ‘Distopijski,’ kratko ga je opisao.

Scenarije piše kao i romane, prateći konfrontacije likova koji su prošli audiciju kod pisca. ‘Ponekad,’ kaže, ‘priča teče tako dobro da je ne prekidam od početka do kraja i to bude moja prva ruka. Onda se još dva ili tri puta vratim na materijal dok sve ne uglačam, ali ako su likovi dobri, radnja se ne mijenja.’

Nakon ‘Najtužnije muzike na svijetu’ i ‘Bijele kontese’, bit će to njegov treći scenario. Bio je pomalo skeptičan hoće li ovaj zaživjeti.

‘U svijetu filma nikada ne možete biti posve sigurni, jer film ovisi o mnogo kreatorskih ega. Scenarija za filmove po mojim romanima ‘Ostaci dana’ i ‘Nikad me ne napuštaj’ na koncu nisam pisao ja, a spomenut sam kao ‘izvršni producent’. Ni dan-danas ne znam što je uopće posao ‘izvršnog producenta’. Uprkos svemu, vjerujem da je budućnost literature u suradnji sa filmom, sa pravljenjem ozbiljnih filmova što je sada trend u Americi. Također,  dovršavam i novi roman. Početkom sljedeće godine bit će u štampi.’

Izrekao je to sa sjajem u očima, tipičnim za obrtnika ponosnog na svoje umijeće da uvijek iznova daje smisao onome u čemu je dobar.

ImageU znak pozdrava, kratko, bez riječi, naklonismo glave.

Ako je on ‘banana’, koja li sam ja metafora: izvana bjelkasta, iznutra po potrebi – ovoga puta žućkasta?

Na pamet mi pada samo – cigareta… Baš i nije nešto.

Audicija za metafore otvorena do daljnjeg.

London Stories of the South

It’s the title of my new book, which is the collection of my London stories. Obviously.

‘The South’ translates here as in ‘by a South European’. Or: ‘The South-nuanced London stories’. Translations translations.

Fortunately, the title is gripping and completely understandable in all my mothertongues: Montenegrin, Croatian, Serbian & Bosnian.

And I wrote the stories in my first languages.

One day, maybe, it will appear in this tough Anglo-Saxon market; tough because these days an unknown & translated author has to either be a runaway from a huge troubled market (country); or incredibly lucky, wealthy yet free, all over the place and web, an interesting,  young male – to even hope to be published here. But in 10-15 years…When children have grown up and moved out…Watch this space. Or not. But I will still be writing; writing much more in fact.

Anyway, this book is about all things London-related. How I arrived here, froze my butt and bones in my summery dress because it was 7 degrees in June. Now of course I know it’s the normal June temperature.

I wrote about Londoners and me. How I learned to tone down; and when I did they told me they loved my outrageousness.

I wrote about nostalgia, the plus and minuses of it; about how it moves in her mysterious ways and how I learned to switch that companion on or off.

I also wrote about the days when I was a couch potato; then, some exhibitions, some theatre.

I wrote when I was in Love with London; I wrote when I wanted to strangle it (him?); I wrote when we’d break up and come back together again, more passionately than ever.

This book can have huge audience. For any curious 15-100-year-old reader. Especially if, for now, she reads Monte, Cro, Serbo or Bosnian.

I love so many things about this book. I should have it translated, at least into English, I think.

I love the cover.

And the stories between the covers – well, ‘When you don’t know what to write, write one honest sentence,’ apparently Hemingway said this. Well, it defines my London stories.

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Indoors

Last weekend was the perfect one for staying indoors. I have problems with calling this brown flat ‘home’. We are renting it. So I call it ‘indoors’.

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We all stayed indoors. Except my teenager, of course. But that doesn’t count. He has nothing in common with the rest of the family, he’s sure of it.

And anyway, when he is indoors, at ours, he mostly sleeps.

I can wait.

I can wait for my son to shed the troubled skin off, and come back to Mama. People say it will happen when he turns 21. And by the way, we say ‘Mama’ in our Mamatongue. And now, how convenient, there’s a horror film called ‘Mama’. One more reason for my baby teenager to prefer other mothers, moms, mums, and Mammas, instead of his horror-material, Mama.

I was forced through the trailer of ‘Mama’ (booo) while waiting for Zero Dark Thirty to begin, on the Thursday night, before the indoors weekend.

Zero Dark Thirty as a code for 0:30a.m. – how cool is that. Americans are always one step ahead in the individuality of coolness. You can’t call a war-on-terror-film ‘Half-past-midnight (darling)’. But already, in the cool-o-sphere, there existed a ‘zero dark thirty’ expression for it. Whenever I type that code, I have to pause and take a deep breath, because I feel the rush of power. Really. However short-lasting.

Anyway, the same woman from the trailer of MAMA appeared then in the film with the powerful, cool name. It’s her moment, Jessica Chastain’s – I love saying her name – and she’s nice.

I know that she is nice because, after that film night, the indoors weekend followed, and I saw her again, on TV (which was ON all the time, so sue me): she was standing and smiling wholesomely under the London sleet, dressed for London weather, in what looked like a coat, long sleeves and no cleavage or bare back, and it was a wonderful sight of normality on TV. She was smiling wholesomely and sanely, and  she was ‘looking forward to sharing the same award presentation ceremony (The Baftas) with Helen Mirren’. She then said that she had the role of her dreams-come-true, because her Maya from Zero Dark Thirty was the kind of woman defined totally by her work. I melted a bit, inside, indoors. I thought it was amazing.

I was watching TV over the kitchen counter, while massaging, for the fifth time that weekend, Bouillon powder and olive oil into the remains of an animal (not horse). I thought: a woman protagonist, so perfect and calm, called Maya, defined only by her work, no man, no children, and no kitchen; oh, how amazing; how amazing. And then I recalled Maya, the tough, persevering redhead from Zero Dark Thirty, and I remembered how she only snacked on junk food to keep herself going. Only once did she go out to a restaurant, sat down to eat and drink red wine, and that was when something or somebody exploded, she barely managed to get out of there. From then on – she had no time for slow meals, and no trust in idiotic slow meals that suck the life out of … us? (I was on her team while massaging the meat before I dropped it into hot oil.) No. Maya would just pop some crunchy bits into her mouth, or chew on some gummy elastic that could have even been cheese, have a sip from a can, and on with her work she would go. Maya. There are a lot of Mayas in my home-country, and mostly they were born in the month of May, they’re Taureanly down-to-earth and loyal, I get along with them well. I have a soft spot for the name.

And I also thought: she is the human of the future. (Because, as I said, Americans are always one step ahead.) The humans of the future will not give a flying quack whether someone is male or female. Work will define them. Those who will have been lucky enough to place their passion into their work will truly rule the world. They will all be equally ok, because they will not need much. They will be balanced: sometimes angry and sad, but fine after a short outbursts of sobbing in their own corners; they will snack on a gummy protein, sip from a can, wear practical yet tidy clothes, comfortable always, of course, because there will be no fat to press at the seams and scream to be let out. Work-fun balance will have merged because work will be fun; and balance will be everything else.

I looked at my daughter. She may be one of these humans in her twenties. Great! I don’t have to worry, then. A balanced daughter defined by her work is a mama’s dream.

But then – wait! – in her twenties! Twenties! Maya wasn’t a human of the future. Maya was just young! And she was groomed since high school. But mostly, she was young and that’s why she could snack and stay cool and all.

Somewhat disappointed that everything cool could be explained by actually just being young, I changed the TV channel, and we ate and watched a marathon of sorts of Supernanny US.

It was mesmerising, too. It was like having an auntie living with us. Respect was palpable. My son came back home and proclaimed that he loved Supernanny and had once seen her in Joe & The Juice and that was awesome, he said, because the guys that work there asked her to say ‘This is unacceptable behaviour’, and she said it, and everyone laughed.

Even my husband couldn’t take his eyes off the TV screen, and at one moment just managed to whisper from his armchair: ‘Who is this woman? I don’t like her.’

And now I want to see a film about a woman in her forties, at least, defined only by her work, who has managed not to have become a bitter, lonely bitch. Zero Dark Forty!

Bite into that, Bigelow.

sylviaplathdrawings7P.S. And I wish ‘they’ let Sylvia Plath remain defined only by her work.