The spatial-temporal parallelisms in the short stories written by Urošević, our renowned geographer of the imaginary, are carried out also by using montages, combining and intertwining of two narrative streams based on the principles of coincidence (Cortazarian example of the fantastic). All the while, “the grey web of time” lures into its traps either one and the same person that is given two parallel existences via the act of “changing places” and playing with their identity (“Train for Cochabamba”, “The News”, “Lucifer’s Afternoon” – though here it’s more of a case of lucid play, identification and swithing a black cat with the Prince of Darkness), or, on the other hand, different characters meet in the same space, but at different times, most often through the mediation of a specific object that plays the role of a linking segment (“People from Dubrovnik in Skopje”, “The Sabre”, “The Hand”, “The Kitab-An Manuscript”). This identical function, occasionally, is also performed by a dream. The dream can also serve as a tool to make a “temporal jump” within the narrative imaginary panotpicum:
“… instead of cars, outside in the murky dawn, I can only see Roman battle chariots. In which era are we living?” – wonders the narrator following a nightmarish “difficult night” in the eponymous short story.
Dreams are a country in which “all times happen at the same time”, writes Urošević on another occasion. The calendar of the dream opens new doors into the creative universe of these stories: Urošević is a “true dreamer of the city” (Miodrag Pavlović), with him “dream is a reality, reality is a dream” (Branimir Donat). It is no accident that the title of this book – Cherry Liqueur – is taken from the anthological short story of the same title, as the central emblem of the whole collection, considering that a key role in the story is played exactly by a dream! In many other short stories, too, such as: “The News”, “Antiquity Shop in Thessaloniki”, “The Message”, “The Dream”, the excursions of the main characters into the realms of the irrational are also expressed through the mechanism of the dream. Another group of short stories, furthermore, explicitly contain in their subheadings the phenomenon of the dream: “The Attraction of Archeology”. “Redemption”, “The Girl from the Aquarium”, “Air Raid”, “It Could Be Worse” and the already cited “Difficult Night”. The poetics of the dream in these stories is not based on the technique of writing down of dreams or their literary depiction, but rather it means their esthetization: the dream becomes a synonym for the story, akin to Antonio Tabucchi and his Dreams of Dreams.
„In his search for the connection between times, between objects, events and people, Urošević suggests a harmony of the world that also carries within its causes and effects, finding the reason to be a confirmation of all of that, of all that confluence of connections, relations and existences” – Slobodan Micković12 writes about this almost ethereal image which shimmers between the dream and the reality in the stories of Urošević, and which is further shaped by a subtle system of associations. On multiple occasions and for different reasons, Urošević himself has spoken about the connection between distant things as the principle of his ars poetica. The idea is thrilling about the general connection of everything in this world, the possibility that geographical places or sensory experiences can mutually correspond; this is an idea that opens new horizons, establishes a higher order of existence, inspires a greater emotional or intellectual engagement from readers, as well as stirs up the imagination. Certain short stories in Cherry Liqueur, such as: “Connections” (A Telephone Story)” or “Secret Mission” function as platforms for interlinking different events and circumstances; in some of the other stories the principle of analogy, that magical harmony of phenomena, promotes in a subtle manner a more specific form of perception and sensory experiencing of reality, that is in relation with other galaxies and in touch with the stars:
“His gaze wandered into the grass. There he saw a violin clef. He bent down. He saw tiny umbrellas, an admiral hat, and gramophone horns. The grass parted in a myriad of shapes (…) A white snail was sitting on a hazel tree. The snail resembled a medieval shield. Along the shield spread byzantine patterns. (…) Near and distant things mixed together. The man with the glasses disappeared behind a large flower. The flower was shaped like a wide dress and the stem was curved like a parasol handle. The young man wondered: it reminded him of something.”
(“Afternoon in the Park”)
Integral to the mechanism of establishing connections and relations between the micro- and macrocosm, is the inevitable disorientation, due to the shifting of the worlds and even the creation of “inverted worlds” (mundus inversus), where what is up becomes down and vice versa. An author of the format of Vlada Urošević has won the right to have his own spatial perception of the world.
“Left all alone, I continued to descend the stairs. (…) Even though it was utterly impossible and meaningless, at one moment, coming from below, three self-appointed guards appeared. (…) They all went up the stairs, coming from below, from some dark abyss, even though I was aware that I had left them somewhere above, on the higher floors of the enchanted building.”
(“The Dark Stairs”)
„Outside, in high altitude, where sunlight still shone in radiant splendor glistening in its myriad of decorations, an airship sailed. It was a balloon with horizontal stripes – red, yellow, orange – though beneath it hanged a huge basket, it would seem made of willow reeds and which housed a large number of people. (…) The aircraft smoothly glided through the air over the cornfield, and when it hovered over the train it descended really low. (…) Everyone on the train come to the windows to stare in awe at this incredible sight.”
(“Dirigible Over a Cornfield”)
Where is the dirigible sailing? Maybe it is in search of the mysterious “Book with purple pages” from the eponymous short story? “Maybe you, as an experienced reader, can help me? Have you ever come across that book with purple covers and unusual illustrations inside? Maybe you know where it could be now??” (“The Book With Purple Covers”).
Doesn’t every act of writing/reading/interpreting constitute a journey, adventure or walk through the labyrinthine paths of narration in time and space?! Most probably, only the means of transport can differ! The narrator Vlada Urošević chooses the coach “in the winter nights, when the snow is drifting” (“The Night Before the Holliday”) and the dirigible aircraft (“Dirigible Over a Cornfield”), both items are linked to childhood as his obsessive theme: the coach refers to the “night coach” that had carried the child-narrator and his cousin Emilija to wondrous adventures throughout the city, while the dirigible according to the testimony of the author is linked to the illustrations seen in his favorite childhood books. The coach drives on ground, the dirigible sails in the sky. An ideal combination, isn’t it?! Urošević is an experienced coach driver who is familiar with “some secret plan of the city” and a skilled pilot of the dirigible along the starry paths of narration. To those that travel with him, in-between dreams and reality, he offers them his “cherry liqueur” as gift.
12 Слободан Мицковиќ, „Влада Урошевиќ или од еден агол“, предговор во: В. Урошевиќ, Знаци, Скопје, Мисла, 1969, стр. 9