What with Sylwia Chutnik, Michał Witkowski and Dorota Masłowska’s Między nami dobrze jest, I’ve had quite a run of luck with books and plays by young writers lately. It’s not all good news on the young writing scene, though. Take novelist Jacek Dehnel (b. 1980), who wrote an article for Polityka a couple of weeks back (March 14th) that gives a flavour of the man, of the times, of the Polish intelligentsia.
He was in Venice. I was in Venice too, once, but I did it all wrong. I arrived on an overnight train, wandered around and saw the sights and stayed in a cheap hotel and ate pizza and got a throat infection and had to go back to the factory after only a few days. Also, I was there in the summer – a fatal mistake, Mr. Dehnel tells us, as summer is “…when the canals stink, and tourists of all countries unite in a great human river…” Bleedin’ tourists. He means me, of course. Mr. Dehnel was there in winter and he found it exactly as Brodski describes it in Znak wodny (“Watermark”). That’s pretty much how I remember it too: exactly like Mr. Wotsisname said. There were, as Jacek recalls and I too recall, lots of “avvocati,” “dottori” and simply heaps of “fondamenti.” Or I presume there were. I don’t speak Italian as well as Jacuś and I don’t know what these things are: advocados, daughters and foundations, presumably. It turns out lots of famous people are buried in Venice – Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde – no wait, that’s somewhere else. Diagilew, Strawiński, Pound… Did you know that Ezra Pound ordered two violin sonatas for his long-time lover Olga Rudge from Georges Antheil, whom Strawiński met in Berlin? It’s true.
The article brought back to me all too forcefully why I was unreluctantly forced to abandon Dehnel’s Lala after a few dozen pages.
Tags: travel writing