Daily Review: The Lonely Poet and Other Stories by Branka Cubrilo
August 3, 2017
Branka Cubrilo’s writing is lyrical, at times magical, and always hauntingly beautiful.
Otto Visconti creates a theatre of the absurd in which he is the main character and the anti-hero, the victor and the victim, the celebrity and an irrelevant, obscure and insecure poet misplaced in an isolated and cold world created by his insecurities, obsessions and illusions, governed by the strange inner forces throwing him mercilessly into absurd situations and even more bizarre conclusions and outcomes.
He is the main protagonist and the narrator of his misfortunes in the first part of the collection.
The second part of the collection offers stories collected from Sydney to New York featuring odd characters in their constant search for meaning, for satisfaction, fulfillment or adventure. They chose unusual avenues in their pursuit of personal happiness; the avenues that often lead them astray.
By Irina Dimitric
These bitter-sweet farces grabbed my attention at once as they are hilariously funny and entertaining.
The first part of the collection is narrated by a misfit, a Poet, finely portrayed to be at the same time a likable and irritable character.
He is likable because he is good-natured, a genuinely honest human, so we could easily find the fragments of our own deeply hidden thoughts in the stream of his consciousness, in his insecurities and frustrations. But he is irritating because we hesitate to sympathise too deeply as we might discover seeds of our own ‘madness’.
Otto Visconti, in his insecurities, honesty, bluntness and naivety resembles Prince Myshkin when he was faced with ‘the real’ world after leaving the sanatorium. We all need to express what we think and feel but are often prevented by socially accepted behaviour and rules, so I see Otto Visconti as one of Beckett’s characters of the theatre of the absurd or a fine fellow from Pirandello’s tales.
The second part of the Collection features around ten stories, which are absolutely quirky, funny and surreal, and whilst reading them I couldn’t put the book down. Branka keeps her reader in constant anticipation, as she is the master of creating a believable and profound character.
All of her characters have a distinct personality and behave in a particular way until the reader truly and sincerely feels for them. This is so evident in this collection.
Don’t miss this excellent collection, the fun and quirkiness it offers is something that needs to be read.
Simply marvellous tales! Highly recommended.
Branka Cubrilo is never alone. She chances to meet her characters along the way, often in the dead of night and usually when she least expects to find them. It’s as if they have been waiting for her. Branka’s characters are never far away – even when she thinks she has forgotten about them.
They travel with her and live just on the far side of her mind, content to remain amidst the shadows until it’s time for Branka to sit down and write about them. Some wind up playing bit roles, but others demand a story of their own. They are weary of the passing time, and refuse to wait any longer.
One of them was Otto Visconti.
Branka remembers, “Otto came to me in the form of a lonely, gentle soul I had met years earlier in Andalucia. The character, the voice in my head, would not leave until I wrote about him. Every writer knows well when the voice appears, we have to follow it. He was so insecure, but he had such a talent in narrating stories which sounded almost like long poems. He performed for me that evening a real drama of his life, narrating, crying, gesticulating, and convincing me that he was a character worthy of my attention.”
Otto came time and again until Branka believed she had captured most of the outpourings from his gentle, yet disturbed soul. The result is The Lonely Poet and Other stories, a collection of emotionally charged portraits of life that are both poignant and thought-provoking.
Spend some time with Otto, and wonder how man who appears to be so mentally unstable, perhaps even mad, can make you laugh at him and his misery, but he does. However, there are moments when you are laughing through the tears that stain your face. He is not who you might think he is. Otto is not even who thinks he is.
But are any of us?
Branka has creatively painted a world that none of us fully understand, a heretical world filled with lies, injustice, dishonesty, and pitfalls, daring us to fall. And, like Otto the Lonely Poet, we sometimes do. The story of Otto is the bedrock upon which the collection is built, but Branka’s other ten stories are just as captivating, the kind of stories that remain lodged in your head long after you have finished the book. The characters have long traveled with Branka. Now they will travel with you as well.
Branka Cubrilo’s writing is lyrical, at times magical, and always hauntingly beautiful. Her stories are fresh and original, her books meant to be read more than once. Like traveling to an intriguing place as often as you can, you find something unforgettable each time you go. Branka and her characters don’t live in the same world as they rest of us do, and, as readers, we are glad they don’t.