Andrzej Bursa - Killing Auntie & other work

Killing Auntie and Other Work - Andrzej Bursa
Boyd Tonkin from Independent described Andrzej Bursa as a “literary James Dean of the Stalinist era”. When you put it like that, he sounds like someone I would sleep with.

He died young, he was only 25. Apparently of congenital heart disease but many think it was a suicide. You can’t blame them – Bursa’s poems often read as they were written by someone on suicide watch. His family repeatedly denied it was a suicide, but then they would, wouldn’t they? Committing a suicide in Poland in the 1950s was not something that went down well with the church and the society. 
The general agreement is that it wasn’t a suicide but as Bursa is now a cultural artefact, we can believe what we want to.

This collection, edited and published by CB Editions, starts off with a series of poems and short forms arguing the absurdity of life (especially the life in a country like Poland in the 50s). Bursa also questions the role of the poet and laughs at it:

“A poet suffers for the millions
From 10 to 1.30
At 11 his bladder is full
He goes out
Unzips his flies
Zips up his flies
Returns to his desk
Clears his throat
And again
Suffers for the millions”

However, the star of the book is the novella ‘Killing Auntie’, the longest work Bursa ever produced.
And for once the title isn’t misleading. It is actually about a guy who decides to kills his lovely auntie.

Every day she makes him breakfast, she takes care of him, provides for him, works her bum off so that he can concentrate on his studies. No wonder that one day when she asks him to do some DIY, he takes a hammer and breaks her skull. You can hardly blame the man. 

Let’s be honest, generally life isn’t very exciting. We get up, we eat, we pee, we go to work (or we don’t), we eat again, we watch tv, read a book, go to bed. What’s the bloody point? Now, if you have a corpse in your bathtub, you have a goal. 

It’s so easy to get invested in this story. Like, seriously, what are we gonna do with the body? Jurek is getting rid of it piece by piece and it is taking forever. Every tiny piece of rotten meat is another adventure. He goes to another town to post it as a parcel to a fictional address, he tries to burn a foot in a furnace, he uses a meat-grinder. You can say it is a quest kind of novel. In between all that he gets drunk, he gets arrested, he falls in love, he has sex. Like any other guy. Except that, maybe, Jurek is a bit of a psychopath for killing his auntie, but we all thought something crazy like that at least once in our lives, didn’t we? There is no harm if it was just a thought, right?


And as a bonus, here are some covers of the Polish editions of 'Killing Auntie':