Haunting Images From a Polish Village

ATWIB 2013
I discovered this book because it was mentioned in something else I read recently (wish I remembered what), and then I realized it was on the 1001 list. When I found it at the local library sale, I snatched it right up, especially since it was bite-sized and would be an easy one day read when I needed one. Yesterday was the day. It is a gem. Here is what I said on Goodreads:

The Street of CrocodilesThe Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

He dressed with care, but without haste, with long pauses between the separate manipulations.

The rooms, empty and neglected, did not approve of him, the furniture and the walls watched him in silent criticism.

He felt, entering the stillness, like an intruder in an underwater kingdom with a different, separate notion of time.

Opening his own drawers, he felt like a thief and could not help moving on tiptoe, afraid to arouse noisy and excessive echoes that waited irritably for the chance to explode on the slightest provocation.

And finally, when after sneaking from dresser to closet, he had found piece by piece all he needed and had finished his dressing among the furniture which bore with him in silence, and was ready at last, he stood, hat in hand, feeling rather embarrassed that even at the last moment he could not find a word which would dispel that hostile silence; he walked toward the door slowly, resignedly, hanging his head, while someone else, someone forever turning his back, walked at the same pace in the opposite direction into the depths of the mirror, through the row of empty rooms which did not exist.

I could have almost picked randomly in The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories for a passage to exemplify Bruno Schulz‘s writing. It is consistently evocative, generating images that are alternately lush, fragrant, eerie, haunting. This book is not exactly a novel, but not exactly a set of stories. There isn’t a plot really in either the entire book or the stories themselves, and yet they form a compelling collection. They are a like a display of Faberge eggs that can be examined for their exquisite detail and marveled at. Only the eggs would not create a sense of a haunting whole and would not contain within them social commentary. I’m deeply grateful that this book ended up on the 1001 list. It was also mentioned in some other book I just read (wish I could remember which it was now), and I immediately looked it up. I would not have wanted to miss it. Sadly, there is little else to read by Schulz, as he was shot dead walking through an Aryan part of his small Polish town during WWII when still a young man. I will definitely be tracking down whatever else IS available in English though.

View all my reviews

Updating the scoresheet:

Around the World (goal: 52 total including at least 6 in each of 6 different regions) 14
Asia/Mideast: 4 (Israel, China, Afghanistan, Japan)
Africa: 1 (Madagascar)
Europe: 4 (England/UK, Ireland, Monaco, Poland)
Caribbean/Central America/North America: 3 (US, Cuba, Haiti)
Oceania: 1 (Fiji)
South America:
Extra: 1 (Scotland)

Around the US (goal: 50 states, DC, and PR): 10 (CA, CO, GA, LA, MA, MN, MS, NY, PA, RI)

1001 Books (goal 52): 12

A to Z challenge (must be completed in order–26 author last names A to Z then 26 titles A to Z–strategy is all!): 11
Authors: Auster, Beinart, Chandler, Donovan, Eugenides, Faulkner, Grau, Hosseini, Ishiguro, Joyce, King


About Beth Parks Aronson

I am Associate Professor of Psychology at Lamar University. Previously, I was a psychologist in private practice in Jenkintown, PA where I specialized in anxiety disorders and working with people living with chronic and life-threatening illnesses. I am a little addicted to good literature. Ok, a lot addicted.
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