Malcolm's Reviews > Out of Oneself

Out of Oneself by Andras Palyi
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

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bookshelves: fiction-east-central-europe, lit-like
Read from April 18 to 22, 2012

In these two short novellas – around 60 pages each – we have tales of fraught romance and tortured relationships that we just know are going to end badly (we are even giving the end at the beginning in one case). Pályi seems to have a bleak view of the world and especially of relationships; it is almost as if he denies the potential for happiness.

In each case, it is the male partner (the relationships are resolutely heterosexual) are out of place – as a matter of faith or class – and find that uncertainty about social place challenged by actresses as the ultimate femmes fatale in tales that are deeply erotic teetering on the brink of the pornographic in places but being redeemed by their failure to objectify the women and their distance from both voyeurism and scopophilia. Even more so, and despite his seeming uncomfortable relationship with his women characters, Pályi seems also to manage the threat of misogyny by making his men as flawed and less likeable than the women – although he succeeds more successfully in the first novella – ‘Beyond’, a tale of desire between a priest and he mistress – than the second – ‘At the End of the World’, centred around a screenwriter and actress – which makes it a more successful and to my mind more engaging and the preferable story. It may be that the age of the characters (they are older in ‘Beyond’) may also have something to do with that.

Once again, Twisted Spoon Press has given us a fine piece of central European fiction in translation. It remains a press to adore.

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