I'm struggling with this book. It certainly was a struggle to finish, but afterwards I'm still not sure what to think of it. Stasiuk can write, that's for sure, only for some reason he chooses to write two good pages and then becomes unintelligible for another ten. I like it when he gives quotations, by writers such as Cioran, Kiš or Esterhazy. I like his decriptions of small backwater villages in Slovakia, Albania, Romania; it makes me want to drive there too. But he can have awfully dense philosophic passages that blur in front of my eyes. It almost seems he wants to push his readers away, keeping his thoughts to himself. Maybe this book wasn't meant to be published and he did write this as a personal notebook. Or maybe he refused to write a more conventional travel book and wanted to make a point like 'finding meaning in a text is pointless and irrelevant, just like finding meaning in the things I encountered on my travels is; therefore, I shall make my book as vague as possible to mirror this experience.' The text mimicks reality and all that. I don't know. Unlogically as it may seem, I am rather intrigued by this Stasiuk and will read another of his books in the near future, when possible.
27 August 2012
Original title Jadąc do Babadag, 2004
Translated from the Polish by Michael Kandel