Ravens, seagulls, and dark angels

/, Literature, Blesok no. 136/Ravens, seagulls, and dark angels

Ravens, seagulls, and dark angels

Indeed, the opening parts are predominantly dedicated to the legendary Dalmatian “seagulls”, well-known local characters from Yugoslav resorts in the 1970s and 1980s of the last century, their maturation, their first sexual experiences, but mostly their skillful quests for as many trophies as possible, their hunting for as many female hearts and bodies as possible for the foreign women who spend their summers on the Rab. At the same time, as they improve their skill of seduction, the competition between the boys becomes more interesting, and the beauty of the girl that has been won becomes less important at the expense of whether someone else is trying around to grab her because to steal someone else’s girlfriend it is most provocative. The example of a girl from Novi Sad who comes to the island with her boyfriend and Raven persistently showers her with compliments and flowers is an excellent illustration. “Dragana suddenly knew the smell of every flower, while her friends and the guy were making fun of Raven. But something in his face and posture could not be made fun of; he was like Belmondo playing a clumsy seducer, Alain Delon who hardly looks funny, Humphrey Bogart in his tender moments, a dagger coated with yellow canary-like feathers. Where they saw a provincial man imitating a cowboy, she saw a brave boy who did not care about the environment …” (Фериќ, 2020: 92)

In the center of attention are the male-female relations, all painted convincingly, realistically, caught in the daily search for the meaning of life or at least in the illusion that they have reached it for a moment, without hiding the ruthlessness and harshness of some of those moments and actions such as Raven’s constant return to the local girl from September to May, while summer is a period of freedom and new conquests. And even Lena “… began to see love as something seasonal. Like grape harvest, for example, or squid hunting season. Her season was off-season.” (Фериќ, 2020: 77). And in summer, passionate sex games without censorship are on the scene again. Explicit descriptions of bodily pleasures, though often trivial, are not at all for no reason vulgar. On the contrary, Ferić uses them to show an extremely wide range of emotions, from admiration and ecstasy, through grotesque and humor, to deep sadness and melancholy. Often personal destinies imperceptibly spill over to the collective and intertwine with socio-political relations and cultural paradigms, so the novel unobtrusively talks about topics such as religion, tourism, or wars in this region. “However, what is most attractive in Ferić’s novel is his profound, delusional, yet not at all banal cynical insight into the dark abyss of human passions, where the sexual ones, no matter how they move the things, are in fact only part of a much wider complex of desires for self-affirmation and the (always unattainable) permanent solid foundation of one’s own existence (…) Clergy in Croatia have long accused Ferić of “pornography” because they sometimes fail to understand that what he is doing is much “worse”, i.e. more subversive (…) Ferić peeks even deeper into the heart of darkness that is so often found in the heart of a normal person, an exemplary father, husband, mother, daughter, our neighbor, and ourselves. Well, that is unforgivable.” (Pančić 2016)

In the masterfully written and compositionally well-fitted descriptions, often tensed and full of unusual and intriguing events, Ferić takes us from evening book promotions to massage parlors and even more pleasure, from the train between Krakow and Wroclaw to the sounds of Africa, from Jehovah’s witnesses to the atheism, from the sigh of Dagmar’s mother to the campers in the Italian camp, from the nudism that Wallis Simpson brought to the island to the flags and nationalist songs, from the dance floors to Corpus Christi, from the outdated to the modern, from the feeling of shame to the “freedom which is a bit like death” (Фериќ, 2020: 8) and so on until returning to Rab and the nostalgic meeting in front of the wrong coffin at Raven’s funeral. So he says, “The world is a trap, a billion times bigger than us.” (Фериќ, 2020: 329) and thus actually captures the life in all its intensity, and the one when while young we recklessly surrender to the instincts and later when we realize that life is an eternal struggle, resulting in extreme mood swings while reading, so we laugh, then we cry, sometimes even both at the same time. “In the stories, in which Eros and Tanatos are always finely intertwined, a boy and an older lady, cousins, a mother and her daughter’s boyfriend, a prostitute and a client, merge in a  love embrace, but above all, Ferić’s dark angel, the one from offside, always hovers “which reminds them of dead sons and husbands, of the disabled, of lives spent in pain, and even of a plane crash.” (Pogačnik, 2015)

AuthorAna Martinoska
2021-04-03T19:30:27+00:00 March 31st, 2021|Categories: Reviews, Literature, Blesok no. 136|0 Comments