Natasza Goerke - 47 na odlew

47 na odlew - Natasza Goerke

Let me quote W.G. Sebald one more time: “By all means be experimental, but let the reader be part of the experiment.” And this is what Goerke does, she lets you be a part of her experiment. ’47 na odlew’ is a compilation of three short stories (each shorter than the previous one) which are grotesque, surreal, comical and touching all at the same time. It’s the absolutely perfect marriage of the absurd and the melancholic. The main story’s narrator is 47 years old, too old to be young and too young to be old, and leaves himself to be taken over by inertia and walks between the world of dreams and the real one like a lost drunkard.

The whole book is barely 85 pages but every sentence is a little gem chiselled to perfection. As another piece of Sebald’s advice says: “Every sentence taken by itself should mean something.”
Sadly, this has not been published in English but her other book ‘Farewells to Plasma’ was and I’m sure it is just as whimsical and awesome as this one, so go get yourself a copy.

Meanwhile, I will try to translate some of those beautiful sentences from ’47 na odlew’ (which is also the title of the first, longest story). I will also paste them in Polish, so those who can will be able to read the original rather than my sorry attempts at reproducing them in English:

"Od zawsze czułem, że granica między zdrowiem a obłędem jest niebezpiecznie mglista i zdarzało mi się ją przekraczać całkiem nieświadomie."

"I have always felt that the line between sanity and madness is a dangerously blurry one and I crossed it unwittingly on many occasions."

"Nie wiedząc kiedy, zacząłem zapadać w półsen. Był to stan kreatywny i rzadki, i w takim to własnie stanie, ba, wyłącznie w takim stanie, tworzyłem dzieła, których doskonałość równa była doskonałości kuli. Z nieustraszonością tygrysa przenikałem obszary swych najskrytszych lęków, od tych metafizycznych, jak lęk przed nieskończonością, po egzystencjalne, jak mój własny koniec."

"Unsure when, I started falling half-asleep. It was a state as creative as it was rare, and in this state, and only in this state, I could create work whose perfection was equal to the perfection of sphere. With tiger-like boldness I penetrated the areas of my deepest fears, from those metaphysical ones, such as the fear of infinity, to existential ones, like my very own end."

"Nie czekałam też chwilowo na nic, a i na mnie, mniemam, nikt nie czekał. Kroki na schodach niezmiennie urywały się piętro niżej, telefon milczał, a pustą ciszę mej pocztowej skrzynki zakłócał jedynie bełkot reklam i skowyt rachunków."

"Also, for the time being I didn’t wait for anything, and, I presume, no one waited for me either. The steps on the stairs invariably stopped one floor below me, the telephone was mute and the empty silence of my mailbox was interrupted only by the gibberish of circulars or the howl of bills."

" – On jest tresowany – powiedziała, wskazując gołębia. – Gra na skrzypcach i umie tańczyć tango, nie chrapie, podaje do łóżka kawę, zna się na komputerach i bezbłędnie odróżnia niebieski od zielonego. Jest najprawdziwszym dżentelmenem i ja zupełnie nie wiem, jak mógł nasrać panu do piwa."

"’He is trained,’ she said, pointing at the pigeon. – He can play the violin, dance the tango, he doesn’t snore, brings coffee to bed, knows about computers and can correctly tell blue from green. He is the truest gentleman and I’m at a loss as to how he could’ve shat into your beer."