Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Twelve Collections and a Teashop, Zoran Živković'

Some time soon, Zoran Živković's new collection, Twelve Collections and a Teashop will be released from PS Publishing.

Živković, a Serbian author, has found a Western audience in recent years since his story cycle, 'The Library', was published in Leviathan Three, and later won a World Fantasy Award. In the case of an award doing something useful, it can be argued that it has allowed for Živković's fiction (filtered through translator Alice Copple-Tosic) to find independent publishers and an audience outside his native country, which is certainly a pro in the award column, and when placed next to Giving Authors Cash, might be the only one. Still, it also remains true that Živković exists beneath the radar of many a reader, and though I do indeed love the PS books, the cost in pounds and postage is certainly going to give people a bit of cause when thinking about taking a chance. Still, what can I say? I find the cash. You should too.

The attraction to Živković's short fiction is the cycle form that he works in. In short, this is usually a series of short stories linked by a theme, and which he attempts to pull together in the final story, some times in more obvious way than others. The Library, for example, was made up of six short stories: Virtual Library, Home Library, Night Library, Infernal Library, Smallest Library, and Noble Library. Each story stood on its own, with the possible exception of the final, in which the narrator (if I remember right) eats the previous libraries, or something similar. It's been a while since I read it, so forgive me there. At any rate, the cycle works quite well because Živković explores, in his deadpan style, the various forms of a library. The result of having the six put together into one larger piece, is that the work begins to exists on thematics and lifts the individual pieces into a stronger whole. (The individual pieces are usually quite strong, I might add, so it's a win win here.) Perhaps it's the part of me that is fascinated by the structure itself, and the way Živković works it, but there's a real pleasure to be taken in watching the pieces come together.

The attraction, then, of the double novella, 'Twelve Collections and a Teashop', is the new cycle, Twelve Collections. The other half of the book, A Teashop, however, might present more of a gamble for the reader, since Živković's linear fiction (if that is indeed what it is) at times runs the line of simply being too dry and simple in its execution, especially when placed next to his cycles. The short story 'the Telephone', in which the Devil calls the author, is a good example of that; or at least the first that jumps to my mind. But even here, there's always a nice touch of surrealness to Živković's work, a nice turn of phrase brought out by Copple-Tosic's translation, that the gamble is, perhaps, only a small one. At any rate, as far as it goes for me, I reckon the book is worth the check out--especially given the fine and beautiful thing that was Impossible Stories, released by PS Publishing last year.

And lastly, yes, I know, the image is tiny. Don't blame me. It was the only one on the site.

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