a postface on essential matters for the first, second,… countless time
Writing about the new book of an author with whose opus we are quite familiar poses a special circumstance and challenge, quite different from the regular practice of commenting (only) on a specific text within the pages of a single book. In the case of Elizabeta Bakovska, whose whole opus I know inside out, literally everything she has published to date1 , matters are even more complicated or more exciting (depending on how you view these feelings!), due to the fact that we both write prose and literary criticism. Furthermore, Bakovska also writes poetry, whereas as a critic I am especially fond of reviewing and interpreting poetry. On top of it all, Bakovska and I are biologically close in age, while also belonging to the same generation of literary authors. One of us used to write for children, while the other still does and we are hoping that she will publish her children’s fiction very soon.
This book is custom made for me to reflect and say a few words on writing on the edges between genres, on the edges between criticism and belle lettres. There are certain things which are left hanging, being too personal to be expressed in works of criticism, or too theoretical to be woven into prose texts. These are things that we usually stay silent about, never say anything nor do we write about them.
When I read Bakovska’s short stories, I think that this where she does her best work, that the leap or maybe even the transcendence she makes from her poetry to a longer narrative form (from verse to a sentence) best suits her. Yet, when I go on to read a rather longer, i.e. classical short story of hers, I change my mind and come to the conclusion that Bakovska is more than ready to extend her reach and devote herself to the patient crafting of longer prose forms. Her highly educated critical eye2 is a also always directed to her own prose in order to write under its imperative precision, reflected in the burning heat of the gaze of her sentences, at the beginning and the end of the text, when making a point, drawing a conclusion, ultimately mastering her storytelling potential. Bakovska is not an author whose literary code can easily be broken, because she is a storyteller with a point to make, but that point is not always made at the end, rather no, very often we find it at the beginning of her story. She even makes her point in the middle of the text, yet still succeeds in drawing the story to its end without any loss or decline of the text’s narrative energy.
Elizabeta Bakovska is a finished product, a complete, clear, concise and serious author.
1 Biography of our Love (poetry, Blesok, Skopje,2003), Four Seasons (short stories, Blesok, Skopje 2004), Conditions of Body and Mind after You Turn Thirty (poetry, Blesok, Skopje 2005), On the Road to Damascus (novel, Slovo, Skopje, 2006), A Room of Their Own, a Ghetto of Their Own: Women’s Writing in Contemporary Macedonian Prose (self-published, Skopje, 2016), Thirteen Reviews of Literary and Other Works (literary criticism, Blesok, Skopje, 2018) and her latest The Last Gulps (self-published, Skopje 2018).
2 Bakovska did her M.A. in 1999 on the topic “Intertextual Matrices in the Short Stories of Joyce Carol Oates, AliceWalker, Gordana Mihailova Bošnakoska and Jadranka Vladova” at the Faculty of Philology “Blaze Koneski” in Skopje, while she finished her PhD in gender studies in 21013 at the Euro-Balkan Institute in Skopje on the topic of women’s writing in Macedonian literature. Her PhD thesis was later published under the title),”A Room of Their Own, a Ghetto of Their Own: Women’s Writing in Contemporary Macedonian Prose” s cited in the previous footnote.