Monday, October 06, 2014

It Went Nowhere

In that magical never-diminishing pile of unread books, I picked up Ismail Kadare's 'The Accident'. It sounded completely like my kind of book. Finished it pretty quickly, couldn't quite believe what I thought of it, and read it a second time. And, I don't like it. Completely unimpressed and quite disappointed that it didn't turn out to be the thriller I expected. (Reviews here, here, here and here.)

The storyline is promising. A seemingly ordinary tragic taxi crash off the airport autobahn in Vienna. An Albanian couple Besfort Y (an analyst working for the Council of Europe on western Balkan affairs) and beautiful Rovena St (an intern at the Archeological Institute of Vienna) killed after being flung from the back seat. An alive Austrian taxi driver who seemed rather incoherent. Nothing suspicious was found after an extensive inquiry. No technical tampering evident. Then the intelligence services of the governments of Serbia and Montenegro, and Albania asked to inspect this file, "it should became clear that this country had kept the two victims under surveillance for a long time."

After that, the story simply went to pieces with a lot of unfocused writing, evidences and odd directions in terms of plot development. The author made the taxi driver's words deliberately obtuse. It might be poetic, but after a while, it became annoying. Nobody knew anything, and the readers are enveloped in that fog of the unknown too. Finely executed accident? Murder? Star-crossed lovers? Suicide pact? More stories constructed from stories of their friends dug up by an independent researcher.

Even the twist at the end might not be a clear answer, but something indefinitely concluded by the researcher. The mystery remained elusive, inconclusive. Perhaps it pulled political parallels in the Balkans and the Serbian Revolution. The threads are so fleeting that I couldn't even convince myself of that. By then, I had completely lost interest and didn't care why the couple died. Lots of cases go unsolved and in this particular narrative treatment, it was just a murky blur that was more annoying than admiring its poetic ambiguity.

The researcher now felt relief rather than despair at having abandoned any attempt to describe the final week. 
His conclusion was that not only the final moments in the taxi but the entire last week were impossible to describe. He felt no guilt at cutting his story short. On the contrary, he felt it would have been wrong to continue. 
In that moment of time, these four, that is, the two passengers, the driver and the mirror, apparently found themselves in an impossible conjunction. 
Something impossible happened, the driver had said. In other words, something that was beyond their understanding. It was like a story of souls whose bodies are absent. It was this dissociation of body and soul that evidently led to their sense of disorientation and intoxicating liberation, the uncoupling of form and essence. 
The file of the inquiry showed that Rovena and Besfort had mentioned this dissociation several times. They had also probably come to regret it.

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