A woman’s Odyssey through the modern city told with stylistic panache
A woman’s Odyssey through the modern city told with stylistic panache
(For Spanish excerpt, please, scroll down)
Not discouraged, Wera goes to see Dawid.
I set out for Dawid’s place.
I’m doing the rounds of my old lovers. And trailing around after old lovers is tough, the bumps in the road are worse, so are the potholes, the mud and the dust clouds. The path is not straight, but it isn’t winding either. It bypasses nothing. The last thing you want to remember jumps out underfoot. It won’t let you go past. You have to stop and deal with it. But you have no idea where the road is leading. You think you’re going back into the bright years, but you’re trudging into the dark, to nobody.
The place that was once the Zukier Corsetry studio was now a store selling a bit of everything. No luxury items, just enough to stop you from starving to death or getting covered in dirt.
Dawid still lives above the studio. I don’t know why – I’d have moved out. I’ve never been back to Wera’s Men’s Hair Salon. Looking back just causes more pain.
I dragged myself and Waciak up to the second floor. I’d come to see Dawid, but he didn’t look like my Dawid. He didn’t even look like himself. Although he was as smartly dressed as ever, all polished to a sheen, in shoes, hairdo, black suit, white shirt and he’d put on a bow tie, not that it added much.
Dawid is sensitive. He thinks in twisted knots. There are no scissors capable of cutting through them. However often I tried to help him, to cut him off from his childhood, it was impossible.
Thinking those thoughts weakens the mind. Dawid has to drink to heave himself through another day. It’s not an addiction, it’s a necessity.
In the bright years, he wouldn’t have hurt a fly. Thanks to his docility, he has aged badly. He’s damp. On his cheeks, his brow, as far as the hand can reach. But I still want to reach out a hand for him.
I used to come see him at the studio. He always had clients, and no time to come to my salon. He paid well. He gave me as much for a haircut as I’d get for trimming a dozen other blockheads. I have two of Dawid Zukier’s bras. But he took the measurements a thousand times. He liked taking my measurements. He always took measurements manually. By placing his hands on your tits.
I’ve always had a fine pair of titties, not just in terms of measurement. They’d have done as globes.
There are bras, and then there are bras.
A Dawid Zukier brassière is the Mercedes of bras. It never ages at all, it’s so well cut, made of such good material, by the hand of such a maestro. I’ll never sell them. You put on a bra like that and you don’t need another person to put you in a whirl, or to feel a frisson between your legs.
Whenever I cut Dawid’s hair, I always got a thrill from zooming across the back of his neck.
All his life he’d been a success. No brats, no alimony, no wives, all those women but he never fell out with a single one.
Then came the dark years. Cheap trash from China. Dawid Zukier’s bras stopped being successful. Dawid lost his status.
Dawid Zukier was once a maestro. Now he looks like a scarecrow the sparrows have attacked and plucked. And not even a flock of them – a single sparrow wouldn’t have cold feet about nipping something off him.
I’ve known Dawid all my life. We did our carousing at the corsetry studio. I never invited him to my place. I’d never been to his home. I’ll never know what that home looked like before. Now it looks like the Zukier Corsetry studio. But closed, with no clients, none of the old crowd.
He has transferred everything that was in the studio upstairs. The fabrics, tailor’s busts on stands, finished bras, drawings, hooks and eyes, clasps and buttons.
But it’s a large apartment, you could drive a horse and cart in here, and turn it around in the lounge. Nice little tables, chairs and pictures. So many things enough to keep selling for ten whole years.
Once I’ve seen the back of the mourning, I’ll marry Dawid. But what will we do with Mira? Mira reigns over Dawid. She thinks because she’s older everything has to follow her rules. Dawid has never grown out of being the younger brother. Dawid is tearful, just as once upon a time he was beautiful. Mira’s beautiful too. Dawid and Mira are beautiful siblings. But they don’t look much like each other. And a good thing too. If Dawid had more of his sister’s looks, he wouldn’t be such a gem. And if Mira had a touch of Dawid, even a very small one, she wouldn’t be such a perfect beauty.
Mira could have a chance with me. After I marry Dawid, we could sleep as a threesome in one bed, with a photo of the Jockey in the saddle on the bedside table. Dawid liked dressing up, and he still has his costumes. Mira’s resourceful, they haven’t had to remove anything from the house.
He saw me eyeing his black shoes. He grabbed his pants by the legs and raised them, to show the shoes in their entirety.
Then he presented them:
Top quality calfskin uppers. Stitching: Goodyear welted.
He leaned against the table, bent his leg at the knee and stuck the sole towards me.
Russian leather, naturally tanned, no chemicals. Hand-glazed and milled. Visible stitching. Density half a centimeter.
He walked a few paces. Swinging his ass, with one hand extended, as if showing me a foreign city.
Just look. Just watch me. Look how I walk. Between the undersole and the sole there’s ground cork and latex as a binder that creates natural shock absorption, just the right force. Soles edged with a fudge wheel. The shoe can breathe, the foot can breathe, the man can breathe.
He stood with his profile facing me.
The heel is made of glued-together pieces, here too using top-quality leather. A subtle notch at the corner of the heel, in plain terms: a “gentleman’s corner”.
Dawid, do you have any white shoes?
Who do you take me for? I only ever wear black Oxfords, brogues. Hand-painted. The ultimate in style, impeccable. Like new. Beautiful. And do you know how long I’ve been wearing them? Thirty-five years. If that were a woman, I wouldn’t give her a second glance by now.
You’re bullshitting, I said, cutting his speech short.
I went up to him, and we quickly found our way into kissing, lengthily, slowly, sadly.
What sort of tobacco is that? Herbal? What are you smoking? he wondered.
He didn’t wait for an answer.
Have a seat, he said.
He pulled back a chair for me. We sat down at the sewing table.
We looked at each other. Sometimes you have to look at another person, it makes you feel better.
He was the first to speak.
Wera. I promise. I’ll be happy to pay for your funeral, but I beg you, don’t come to see me. No inspections, please. I’m always appropriately dressed. Even when no one’s expected. But my social life is over, anyway.
I didn’t reply. I just looked at him. Dawid’s face was so… full-of-face. As I live and breathe, I’ve never seen a face like it.
He licked his lips.
You’re not going to visit me. Right?
He waited. For the sake of appearances, to give me space in the conversation. I didn’t make use of it.
Wera, what interest do we have in seeing each other. It’s true that in the past a month didn’t go by without us having intercourse several times. And I’m surprised it went so well, when I’m better qualified for platonic love.
I interrupted him:
You had no idea about your own qualifications. All you knew about was bras.
He nodded. He stood up and said:
The client may be as fussy as she likes. I’ll satisfy her anyway. A soutien-gorge of silk. Of jacquard. Of satin. I have it all. In every style. Quilted. Laced at the back. At the front. And I never replace hooks and eyes with zip fastenings. I even have a coffin-brand bra.
Don’t talk to me about coffin brands. As for death, I don’t want to hear anything about it.
Wera, how can I not talk about the Zukier Corsetry studio’s coffin-brand bra when it’s such a one-off, stylish item. There is only one maestro. It is I. Dawid Zukier. And this is the best studio in the whole city. In all of Europe. In all of Asia. In the whole world. But now not a day goes by without Mira asking me how I’m feeling. I haven’t the time to think about how I’m feeling. I must organise the centenary of the Zukier Corsetry studio.
But you closed down long ago.
That’s just the way it seems. The maestro works until he dies.
Dawid. I never move without my scissors.
I never go anywhere. I wait here, the client will come to me, closed or not. Each morning I have breakfast, I shower, I put on my suit and I wait.
Dawid, I’ve spent my whole life listening to you talking about yourself. I come here, and the first thing you do is to tell me the story of your life from conception. As for listening, I’ve listened. I realise a person must say his bit before intercourse. If you don’t intend to get down to the job with me today, just shut up and buy the watch.
He was upset.
Wera. You’re expecting too much of our encounter.
That’s yet to be seen.
Don’t expect anything major.
I showed him the finger.
Your hair’s fallen out.
It’s better without hair.
He was quiet for a bit.
I have a nice skull.
He straightened up, turned around, and the back of his neck went red. He smiled. He took a few steps. He avoided my gaze.
He trudged to the kitchen, and called from there:
A skull like any other.
Dawid. I liked giving you a trim.
He came back. He looked at me. He put cheese, bread rolls and butter on the table. He brought a knife and two plates. He sat down. He scowled, as if to encourage me: Let’s weep a little.
I set it all out. He went into the other room, making it look like a long walk. He came back with the vodka.
Wera, what am I to do with my bad mood. Got a better idea?
He was gone again. Briefly, just long enough to fetch shot glasses and put them on the table.
He poured. We drank one each, without wincing. Looking each other in the eyes. We ate in silence. As if we’d spent all those days and nights together. He used to breathe more slowly, now everything was in a flutter. He never smoked. Only when he felt like crying. He liked to remember his mother. But what was there to remember, seeing they killed his mother when he wasn’t yet three years old.
So what’s the good news, Wera? he suddenly asked.
But as if he were confused.
You’ll never guess.
I will. But as for the affair between us, forgive me, but there’s not going to be a part two.
He wanted to say more, but broke off mid-way. He stopped chewing, and stared into space, into the past, I guess.
Wera, it’s a pity it didn’t work out for us. I don’t know why, but I felt a sort of irritation towards you. It was like an impossible love, the sort that happens to you out of the blue. And all the fear that comes with it. Do you understand me, Wera?
I shook my head to say I understood nothing at all.
I agree with you. I don’t understand anything about us either.
He wanted to top up the vodka, but I refused. The first glass had plunged me into sorrow, because it reminded me I still had to sort out the wake.
Wera, he said, as if to himself.
He had no appetite, which pleased me, more food for me, and more went under the table for Waciak.
Then he put everything away. He carried out the food and the vodka.
I rolled up my sleeve. I showed him the watch.
He didn’t say a thing. He was breathing quickly. He looked at Waciak, who reciprocated.
So this is your dog?
Don’t change the subject. Buy the watch.
I’ve not seen a dog like this one before.
He said out of curiosity.
Why’s he looking at me like that? Never seen a Jew before?
He’s looking at you because you’re looking at him. Never seen a dog before?
He’s a dog like any other.
Interesting breed. More like a hunting dog. Or a truffle hound. No, he’s too big for a truffle hound. What sort of an epitome of cynological invention is he?
A little bit of every breed.
Wera, what’s up with you? You always had your head screwed on. But now you don’t know what breed you’ve bought?
Do you wanna squabble? We’re about to squabble.
He lowered his voice and asked:
Wera, forgive me, your nerves are as shattered as mine.
Buy the watch and I’ll cool down.
I undid the strap. He took it. He put it to his ear.
This is a dead man’s watch.
No, it’s not, but how do you know?
He laid a hand on his heart.
I can sense it. Buying a watch off a corpse means a speedy death. Please tell the lady I’ll give her a little money because we’re all going through tough times. But I won’t buy this watch.
He went to fetch his wallet. He took out some money.
What are you giving me?
That’s not cash.
Forgive me, Wera, I’m not a wealthy man. Mira has some money, but I’m not going to take cash off my big sister to give to a strange woman. If Mira asks where my pocket money’s gone, and she does like to ask that, I can’t say I gave it to a widow.
I took the money, breathed on it for luck, and tucked it away.
Have you bought a suit for your own coffin, Dawid? Why don’t you say something. If you have, give it here. You can buy yourself another.
Is the Jockey dead?
Where did you get that idea?
A suit of mine would only fit the Jockey.
Dawid, I don’t want to talk about death today.
Why the hell do you want to sell me that watch?
You wear a chain and a signet ring. Anyone can see you like jewellery.
I fully agree. I like jewellery, but not junk.
It was my dad’s watch.
I’m not questioning its sentimental value. Have it your way, Wera, to you it’s a valuable watch, to me it’s scrap. Why should I pay for your feelings for your father.
I have no feelings for my father. I’ve seen more of that watch than I ever saw of him.
Wera, so the emotional value of this watch is the same as its market value, in other words it has none. Go ask around, maybe someone will buy it for a kid to learn to tell the time. I won’t buy it, I haven’t got any grandchildren. To have grandchildren, you’ve gotta have children. And I’ve never had a flair for that sort of thing.
Who will be kind to me if not you. If I had children, I’d have gone to them, not you.
Wera, you’d sell trash to your own children for big money. It’s lucky I stepped aside from marrying you. Something warned me off.
What could have done that? Maybe just the fact that I already had a husband and didn’t want to replace him.
Suddenly he asked calmly:
So what’s up with our Jockey?
Ah, so it’s been and happened. Long ago? About a year, I guess?
That’s how you look. As if no man had given you the glad eye for at least a year.
If you don’t wanna buy the watch, do a swap. The watch for a suit. I give you the watch and you give me a suit.
But all my suits are expensive.
For a while he said nothing.
Wera. Didn’t it occur to you, now that you’re a widow, to go buy some decent brandy and come propose to Dawid Zukier?
If I had the money for brandy, why would I need a husband?
Keep the watch for yourself. A memento of your father. And go choose yourself a suit. Take what you like, I never go out anymore. Where am I gonna go. I’ve gone to seed. I’m not even fit for paid love anymore. Wera, do you remember how many candidates for love I had? It was impossible to process them all. I had to invent illnesses, deaths in the family, a wife in Łódź, a mother-in-law dying a protracted death, anything to make a bit of space. Wera. How can I be blamed for being attractive to women. I just was. Go pick a suit. I’m in no shape to choose a wardrobe anymore.
I went to the closet.
Dawid had more jackets, shirts and trousers than in a store. I chose some white suit trousers, a bright jacket and some shoes.
He came up and took a look.
Those shoes are Italian. Only worn once or twice. Like new, take them.
They may well be Italian but they’re black. Don’t you have any white shoes?
No, I have taste.
Suddenly he seemed to emerge from his languor. He rushed up to tear the shoes from my hands. I refused to let them go.
You want me to snuff it. If you bury him in my shoes, death will come for me at once. Shoes always return home.
I gave them back to him.
Dawid. I’ve never heard such rubbish before.
’Cos you’ve never borrowed shoes for a dead man before. I’m not gonna give you any shoes.
Dawid, have pity. You’ve got so many.
I’ve got plenty of shoes, but I’ve only got one life. I’m not coming to the funeral. Forgive me. I never leave the house. Mira takes care of everything. And each night I have to listen to her account of what she did that day.
I returned to the closet, and chose a few more pairs of trousers and shirts, in case the first ones didn’t fit. And I’d sell what was left over.
Have you got a suitcase?
You’ve taken half my closet. Wera. How many husbands are you burying?
I said nothing, I just looked around for a case to pack the things.
Wera, don’t forget. The Jockey got in the way of our friendship.
That wasn’t a major obstacle. Give me a bag, I ordered, stood on tiptoes and pulled out a case. It looked new. Expensive ones always look new. I packed it.
Suddenly I thought of the wake again. I’d still have to trail around for some shoes. And I’d have to buy a bottle of vodka. There’s a death, but no booze in the house. Not so much as a sip, to be milked from a bottle stand like heart drops. You can hold onto your pocket tightly when a death occurs, but it’s no use. Death will clean you out.
Dawid. I need some alcohol.
He got up, shuffling his feet, and gave me a look. He trudged off and brought back a nice bottle of booze.
Here you are, from Dawid. In memory of our old friendship.
I inspected the bottle. It looked like the best vodka kept aside for a party.
This is some pricey booze.
My bras were never cheap either. I’m a master corsetier. Eight-time winner of the Golden Hook and Eye.
He became pensive, as if mentally lining up all the alcohol he’d ever downed.
Give me one more.
He stopped to think.
Wera, have you forgotten what it was like? Are you gonna get drunk out of despair at losing the Jockey?
Not in the least.
He went to fetch a second bottle.
I wrapped the bottles in clothes, so they wouldn’t break. The suitcase zipper got stuck. Dawid pressed down the lid with a knee. It wasn’t the knee it used to be. I took a shoe to the luggage, and the zipper moved with a groan, it was nice to hear. Case closed.
And I left.
Then came back, ’cause I’d forgotten Waciak. He’d gone to sleep somewhere. We looked around for him. He was dozing under a pile of clothes I’d pulled out of the closet.
Leave me the dog.
Waciak is mine.
He snorted. He took a deep breath.
Yours means mine. You come to see me, you take everything as if it’s yours, you rob me of my booze, and you refuse to lend me the dog.
He was tired. He clenched his lips. He glared at me, and winked. He knew I liked that.
Wera, let me have him. Just for a few days.
He was sneaking off on the quiet. Sweet-talking me.
You’ll take my Waciak to the park to pick up whores.
Sure, that’s just what I wanted to do. I never go out at all. If you have a dog, you have to go out. This dog can hardly walk, so they’ll think I’m being slow because the dog is old and it’s not just me.
He fell silent.
Buy the watch. With a watch like this on your wrist you’ll be off to town in an instant.
I tried to kiss him, but he dodged. I grabbed him, parted his lips with my fingers and kissed him like that until he came back to life, he started to yank at my clothes, and things moved towards making love.
There are women who pour widowhood over themselves like boiling water. I am not one of them.
Suddenly he moved away, in terror. A pretty long way. He stretched his neck, as if examining me.
Where’s the bed? I asked.
I went in and got undressed.
He was there in an instant. He started to undo his belt, then laid his trousers and shirt neatly on a chair.
He appeared to me unclothed. He didn’t look good. Then he grabbed me. And squeezed me so hard I screamed.
I soon fell into a vortex. But he didn’t want anything from me. Not even minor revenge. And even without my mouth, hand or pussy – he cheered up.
He called a cab. I made him pay for the ride in advance.
He came downstairs with us. He helped with the suitcase. Finally we hugged, as if I were off to catch a plane to America. With tears in our eyes. We’d always said goodbye like that. That’s why we didn’t marry, to avoid having to say goodbye forever twice a week.
I sat in the back with Waciak. We drove a short way. He threw up. I’d have thrown up too, the first time I rode around our traffic circle. How is a dog to blame if they built their traffic circle on bumpy ground?
The dickhead cabbie with a bad haircut screamed for extra payment. He’d have to clean the upholstery with chemicals. I didn’t believe a word of it. I opened the case, handed him a bottle and showed him the finger.
His jaw dropped. He took a deep breath, as if planning to get on with the boozing right away.
He drove off.
I still had one bottle. A large bottle, just the sight of it made you feel tipsy. It was enough for the wake. If anyone really felt like getting totally wasted out of grief for the Jockey, let them go wild at their own cost. Anyone can drink themselves comatose at someone else’s expense.
I spent the rest of the day making the Jockey’s coffin outfit.
My scissors are all-purpose. For hair or for fabric. I shortened the trouser legs. I took in the shirts. If I hadn’t been a hairdresser, I’d have taken up tailoring. I’d have made dresses, I’d have got to know some new chicks. Wind my tape measure around their asses, measure their tits, take a tumble with every female client. And with this daydream I fell asleep on the table.
Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
NUNCA SONRÍAS SI NO TIENES DIENTES
Es difícil encontrarle buenos zapatos a un cadáver.
Una cosa es un par de zapatos para el ataúd, y otra muy distinta para vivir.
Si es un cadáver reciente, están bien los zapatos nuevos. O usados, y que parezcan caros. Preferiblemente, nuevos y caros. En cambio, si el finado tiene suerte, conseguirá el tipo de zapatos para ataúd gastados, con mejor aspectos que otros flamantes, recién sacados de su envoltorio.
Puedes convertir un zapato normal en el calzado de un difunto. Pero al revés no funciona. Ponte un zapato para el muerto, suéltalo a la vida y la suela se saldrá a los dos pasos.
Cuando abran la caja un momento, todos le echarán un vistazo a los zapatos, para no soñar con el finado. Sólo después lo mirarán a la cara, clavando sus pupilas en sus manos. Esas manos muertas pueden estar trenzadas, dobladas… o bien pueden sostener una cruz o un recuerdo más alegre, de su vida previa al deceso.
Cuando los vivos contemplan a los muertos, pueden besarlos en la mano, en la frente, en la mejilla… o fingir que los besan. Igual que a veces se finge apartar el arma para dar el golpe de gracia.
Las botas de un difunto se hundirán en la tierra, sin que salgan de la memoria.
No me importa demasiado lo que trascienda del funeral del Jockey. Ni siquiera sé si se abrirá el féretro. La segunda vez que se abra, puede que no cierre bien o que se desintegre por completo, en seis suspiros.
Si se desmorona y el difunto se escabulle, yo lo agarraré bajo el brazo y lo arrastraré a la tumba, aunque sea sin el ataúd. Sin problemas.
Eso en lo que respecta a los zapatos funerarios.
Y en calzoncillos lo envolvería en arena. Pero, Dios no lo quiera, si llega la eternidad y nos volvemos a encontrar el Jockey y yo, él me saltará a la primera de cambio, porque lo he mancillado metiéndolo en el ataúd en pelotas.
Aunque si alguien me viene de morros, yo le parto la jeta. Y no me gusta, porque una vez que empiezo a repartir, no hay quien me pare. No quisiera empezar mi vida eterna pegando a los más pequeños.
Al enterrarlo, el Jockey no consigue tumbarse con su propio calzado. De morir se le han hinchado las pezuñas.
No sé dónde encontrar a un zapatero. A todos los zapateros los han liquidado. Todos a una tuvieron que cerrar el pico. Si no hay ningún viejo agujero, no sabes dónde buscarlo. Y un zapatero, aun fuera del taller, sentado junto a la mesa de la cocina de su propia casa, sería de ayuda. Incluso sin blanca. Los zapateros siempre, a sus zapatos: eso es lo que quieren.
Sé lo que me digo. Los zapatos persiguen a los zapateros, como a mí los melenas. Por la noche me despierto con ganas, y tengo tantas ganas de zapatear, que por la mañana salto de la cama, de la pared al alféizar de la ventana.
Yo traté a algún que otro zapatero, a dos de tú y por su nombre, y con uno de ellos me acosté dos veces. Me acosté y no me acosté, porque cualquier zapatero me servía, aunque no me entrase. Habría trasteado con los zapatos viejos, estirado aquí, cosido cuñas allá o similar. Incluidos los zapatos del cadáver.
Un zapatero es siempre un buen hombre. Ningún canalla trabajaría de zapatero. Un canalla lo que quiere es ligar y hacer dinero. No se arriesgará a que se le reblandezca el cerebro con el pegamento para suelas. Para eso se necesita la pasión del zapatero.
Ya no hay zapateros, pero sí zapatos. Por todas partes: en los mercadillos, en las tiendas. Se agotan los zapatos. El mundo está siendo pisoteado. Pero son zapatos que no valen para nada. Son botas que solo dan para una temporada. Una nueva primavera, otro invierno y se raya la suela, la puntera se sale, la lengüeta no aguanta, el tacón se cae, el cerco está fuera de juego y hay que gastar en otro par.
Todas estas baratijas resultan esbeltas, elegantes, a la moda, con color y buen corte. Uno sólo quiere comprar y comprar. Hasta los pies están ansiosos por probárselas.
Hace tiempo, la industria del calzado no habría inventado un zapato así. Un zapato no era más que un zapato. De joven, se compraba para una boda, durante toda la vida se usaba por temporadas, y lucía como nuevo en el féretro.
Tan sólo el fabricante de ataúdes podía permitirse una suela endeble. La parte inferior del zapato podría haber sido pegada de la manera más burda, porque tampoco iba a llegar muy lejos. Tan lejos como cargaran con el ataúd. A una despedida civil o misa, a una funeraria, a una iglesia, a una fosa… se baja rápido. No demasiado tiempo, una hora y se acabó.
La cutrez solía limitarse a las tiendas para clientes difuntos. Ahora las baratijas están por todas partes. Barato, caro… según convenga.
No sé cuándo fue la última vez que me regalé unos zapatos. Hace mucho que no gasto en mí.
Si un zapato-baratija de esos fuera adecuado para el Jockey y pudiera permitirme ese gasto, ya me habría asegurado de que se hubiera confeccionado a la medida de mi difunto.
Por poco dinero puedes comprarle zapatos de etiqueta a un muerto. Pero tienes que tener esa pequeña cantidad. Y yo, de todo, tengo menos que poco.
Si estuviera acostumbrada a buscar zapatos o tuviera más dinero, ni siquiera vería como una molestia un funeral en la familia.
Se puede comprar un zapato por un céntimo. Pero el muerto tiene que tener buena hechura. El mío siempre fue contrahecho. Y una vez muerto, sobre todo en las piernas. Cuando lo sacaron de la casa, eran los pies lo que tenía más aspecto de cadáver. Y es que de su hocico no se escapó tanta vida como de aquellas pezuñas.
Traducción: Amelia Serraller Calvo
She climbed her first peaks in a headscarf at a time when women in the mountains were treated by climbers as an additional backpack. It was with her that female alpinism began! She gained recognition in a spectacular way. The path was considered a crossing for madmen. Especially since the tragic accident in 1929, preserved … Continue reading “Halina”
First, Marysia, a student of an exclusive private school in Warsaw’s Mokotów district, dies under the wheels of a train. Her teacher, Elżbieta, tries to find out what really happened. She starts a private investigation only soon to perish herself. But her body disappears, and the only people who have seen anything are Gniewomir, a … Continue reading “Wound”
A young girl, Regina Wieczorek, was found dead on the beach. She was nineteen years old and had no enemies. Fortunately, the culprit was quickly found. At least, that’s what the militia think. Meanwhile, one day in November, Jan Kowalski appears at the police station. He claims to have killed not only Regina but also … Continue reading “Penance”
The year is 1922. A dangerous time of breakthrough. In the Eastern Borderlands of the Republic of Poland, Bolshevik gangs sow terror, leaving behind the corpses of men and disgraced women. A ruthless secret intelligence race takes place between the Lviv-Warsaw-Free City of Gdańsk line. Lviv investigator Edward Popielski, called Łysy (“Hairless”), receives an offer … Continue reading “A Girl with Four Fingers”
This question is closely related to the next one, namely: if any goal exists, does life lead us to that goal in an orderly manner? In other words, is everything that happens to us just a set of chaotic events that, combined together, do not form a whole? To understand how the concept of providence … Continue reading “Order and Love”
The work of Józef Łobodowski (1909-1988) – a remarkable poet, prose writer, and translator, who spent most of his life in exile – is slowly being revived in Poland. Łobodowski’s brilliant three- volume novel, composed on an epic scale, concerns the fate of families and orphans unmoored by the Bolshevik Revolution and civil war and … Continue reading “Ukrainian Trilogy: Thickets, The Settlement, The Way Back”