I bought this book somewhere in Frankfurt while attending the famous Frankfurter Buchmesse (which was quite an extraordinary experience, by the way). There was a 5 books 5 euro deal going on and The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories was my fifth. I knew nothing about its author or its content, but the title seemed to call out for me.
“There, for a few hours at least, the deep bitter knowing that you are not worth much in this world could be laid low.”
The Ballad of the Sad Café was, without a doubt, my favorite. There is something unusual, and rather endearing, about the narrator’s voice. I love how effortlessly it travels across time and space; it’s truly wonderful how it flows so naturally, even while going back and forth. It feels like you are on a guided tour of the universe and, in a Jurassic Park sort of way, you are stopped and told this very particular story that seems to be both the birthstone and the deathbed of this rather eccentric town that is now somewhat… extinct. There’s a certain delicacy in the writing that lulls you into a state that makes it impossible to walk away from these characters. You become a witness to their existence and they remain alive within you.
“Therefore, the value and quality of any love is determined solely by the lover himself.
It is for this reason that most of us would rather love than be loved. Almost everyone wants to be the lover. And the curt truth is that, in a deep secret way, the state of being beloved is intolerable to many. The beloved fears and hates the lover, and with the best of reasons. For the lover is forever trying to strip bare his beloved. The lover craves any possible relation with the beloved, even if this experience can cause him only pain.”
I also enjoyed Wunderkind. I love how the main character seemed to be somehow living in the shadow of her own past, soon becoming it, something immaterial with no capability of feeling.
“His own life seemed so solitary, a fragile column supporting nothing amidst the wreckage of the years.”
I can’t possibly go without mentioning The Sojourner. I found it to be heart-wrenching. The writing is so… precious.
“Strange that the music, catalyst for this tumultuous anarchy, was so serene and dear.”
I didn’t know anything about Carson McCullers (her passion for music is evident, though) before, but now I am certainly going to look into her body of work. There’s something truly magical about her.