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Nostalgia (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – November 29, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Romania's leading poet plays with ideas of authorship and authority in this collection of five unconnected stories—his English debut—which he contrarily subtitled "a novel," asserting that "each part reflects all the others." Given the author's pedigree, it's disappointing that the book, extracted from its cultural context, loses much of its power. Cartarescu employs postmodern effects—shifting points of view, blurring of dreams and reality, episodes of magical realism—without enlarging in a meaningful way on the experiments of Kafka, Borges or García Márquez (all invoked by the book's narrators). The first story involves a roulette player who survives against astonishing odds and a narrator who admits the roulette player could not have existed, but did, because "there is a place in the world where the impossible is possible, namely in fiction, that is, literature." "The Twins" consists of a fairly banal adolescent romance sandwiched between long descriptions of a man dressing in drag. Occasionally Cartarescu's prose shines, as with the description of a suicide on the pavement in "Mentardy": "his noble profile displaying its contour against a cheery stain, light purple and widening leisurely." But the self-conscious postmodernism of this collection may prove off-putting for American readers accustomed to conventions of realist fiction. (Nov. 29)
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Review

Cartarescu is taking Europe by storm, with nostalgia leading the way and garnering prize after prize in France, Italy, German... -- American Review, Christian Moraru

Cartarescu's phantasmagorical world is similar to Dalí's dreamscapes. -- Kirkus Reviews

Gripping, impassioned, unexpected—the qualities that the best in literature possesses. -- Los Angeles Times Book Review, Thomas McGonigle

If George Lucas were a poet, this is how he would write. -- New York Sun, Benjamin Lytal

Read this book, then read it again. -- San Francisco Chronicle, Christopher Byrd

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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions (November 29, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811215881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811215886
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,017,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Cosmin I. Gheorghe on January 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Cartarescu is, from my point of view, the most important Romanian prose writer alive. His prose is sweet and painful, structured and chaotic, erotic and anxious, subtle and funny. Many of his writings are filled with nostalgia, as he describes a Romania that does not exist anymore: the interbellic Romania or, in "Travesti", the spirit of the adolescent growing up in the communist Romania of the '60s and '70s.

I met Mircea Cartarescu in 1986, while he was an instructor in what it was called at the time the "National Camp for Literary Creation". I was 14 years old and I was listening amazed to Mircea talking about solipsism, Borges and the "Theory of the Telescoped Worlds". At the time I (and many of those around me) had no clue who Mircea Cartarescu was, and even less who was he going to become.
Only much later I realized how important in my intellectual and emotional (and -why not- sexual) development those Literary Camps were.

Now, on January 13, 2007, I write these thoughts from my house in Berkeley, CA. After living for 7 years in the US, I became aware of the contrast between the depth and painful meaning of my Romanian communist adolescence, and the oblivious and meaningless life of the California adolescent. Both of them seem to me full of nostalgic hopelessness.

I would encourage the American readers not to be "put off" by some of the Publisher Weekly comments that the book is too postmodern for the american reader who prefers "realist fiction". These are the type of comments that keep the American reader unaware that there are so many other styles of writing, which do not follow pre-established writing recipes. Real writers write because they cannot conceive their existence any other way, and not because they want to appeal to as many people as possible.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By raul on October 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Need to re-read this soon...

I love this book, truly a work that finds absolutely stunningly beautiful stories for us in some of the most bleak of settings (Bucharest tenements in the 1980s) - you can read each story on its own, but it's a wonderful experience to read it all the way through, which might be why the translation is billed as a "novel."

A book that stays with you. Call it "magical realism" or "postmodernist" or whatever you want I suppose. At times it feels like a fictional surrealist memoir. It's probably best understood as gorgeous storytelling: phantasmal, oneiric, anxious, boring, horrifying. I recommend it highly.

Semilian, as always, does a lovely job of translating. Codrescu's enthusiastic introduction, as always, is infectious.
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7 of 16 people found the following review helpful By macsuta vlad on September 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
Read and you`ll never be sorry!

A fantastic writer!
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