(Upon the short story collection “A New Story” by Mersiha Ismajloska, “Bran” edition – Struga, 2014.)
#1 Fairy-tales, short stories, short-short stories, poems in prose and an essay or two… the world of Mersiha Ismajloska’s “A New Story” is situated in a small and imaginary subset of all these categories.
Divided into three sections following Tolstoy’s “arrangement”; Childhood, Youth and Maturity, this collection reveals both the chronological and the motif aspects of its stories.
The first cycle unifies the fantastic elements; unicorns, dragons inhabit the lines, and a certain (magical) lake is mentioned several times, as well as many magic and magical situations. These short stories borrow the poetics of fairy-tales and old tales – so that even the time period is that of the fairy-tale, similar to “once upon a time”; it “rejects” grammatical rules because it gives an account of events which refer to a certain all-inclusive or universal time, since they occurred in “that time”.
The second cycle, “Youth”, resumes the thread of curiosity and childhood naivety as a way of viewing things, but it also initiates a thread which foreshadows maturity through passion, yearning and frequent love motifs, as well as through the stories of the Beloved Man and the Beloved Woman (the Loverman and the Lovergirl). The motifs, particularly the love ones, are recurring, and they are presented as a continuation of one another, thus forming a small sub-cycle, while at the same time each of the short stories regains its independence and functions on its own, throughout the book.
What is interesting is the fascination with Dance, spelled exactly like that, with a capital “D”, as if it were something or someone special, a place and a time in which the stories can enter and get knitted or unknotted, or otherwise gathered in the above-mentioned subset. She who narrates dances, She who waits, who loves, who yearns; He who waits for her dances, wherein he waits; the water dances, as well as the mountains, the lake, the Moon, and “The ground beneath her feet” also dances (just as Salman Rushdie announced in his book of the same title, or as U2 sang in their same-titled song). In such a tempo, swaying to a certain strange rhythm in a sort of a trance-like state, Ismajloska’s short stories at times resemble magical incantations, or poems or formulas which seek and reach the magical power of words, but also that of the unconscious.
The “Maturity” chapter amplifies desire, passion and thoughts about the Other, the One, about love and eternity. A minor cosmogony is also present in this section; mini-worlds made from love and desire are created through interconnection of eyes and souls, through reading of body-maps. This section, as well as the previous ones, incorporates allusions to other works and authors (The Little Prince, One Hundred Years of Solitude, the above-quoted Rushdie), poetics, theories, schools and movements, as well as allusions to songs, singers, films and television programs, so that palimpsestics is just another way of reading the short stories which “A New Story” comprises.
The authoress’ skillfulness provides her with confidence and arouses inspiration. Ismajloska’s world is delicate and mysterious, yet open for the curious. An Alice is peering through each line, ready to encounter the wonders spread out before her. The reader must be an adventurer willing to run, dance, fly or dive in the Great Lake, because the world’s organization depends on its ebb and flow. Secret passwords are sometimes required, a secret language (even a basic one), a few encounters at dawn or before dusk, a few Suns and Moons; but generally the only prerequisite is a pair of wide open, honey-coloured eyes full of curiosity.
Translated by Igor Koteski