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Emamemi

Emamemi

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Thomas Mann, John E. Woods
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Our Circus Presents - Lucian Dan Teodorovici, Alistair Ian Blyth What is it that pushes people towards committing suicide? I thought the answer was simple: a grief and desperation so great that would obliterate any trace of hope and desire. One of the characters in Our Circus Presents has a different opinion, though: besides being the ultimate artistic act that a human being can perform, a true suicide is one without a motive. If one has desires, even the littlest of projections into the future, it means that one is not really capable of committing suicide.
The same character asks: what was the reason behind God's creation of Earth and people? He couldn't have made it either from love, wisdom or desire for power and justice. He concludes that God had no real motive, it was just because. An authentic suicide should be the same, just because.

There is a whole array of characters in Our Circus Presents, all nameless people, each belonging to a different type of circus. There is the micro universe of a block of flats, with all kinds of neighbors: the old couple that keeps their door cracked all day, spying on their floor; the old man who borrows water from his neighbors and uses the elevator to pee and defecate, so that he could save his own water; the husband and wife that fight on account of long-gone affairs; the man who fakes blindness so that he would be allowed in front of a queue.

The narrator, living in the same building, starts his day by sitting on the window ledge, waiting for the impulse to jump. And also waiting for something of interest to happen. Jobless, nameless, womanless, he belongs to a loose circle of people who intend to commit suicide. Intend, but not quite manage to do it. Their means of suicide vary: a not-so-sane guy wants to hang himself in the forest, surrounded by hanged stray dogs; a former theologian tried to catch a fatal disease by sleeping with the cheapest whores - since that plan failed, he intends to drink himself to death with 10 liters of whisky; a “professional” stages fake suicides, hoping to be saved by a passer-by.

The narrator may not feel the necessary impulse because he has desires: to own a huge magnet which could attract all the lost money in the world, to have a girlfriend and make plenty of sex, to play soccer at least once on a famous stadium. But what is his motive behind the desire to kill himself, what are the others' motives? Nobody has one apparently, so they qualify for the authentic suicide, for the ultimate artistic performance of their lives. Why don't they do it then? Is it just mere talk, without guts? Is their approach a false one? Because the person who eventually does commit suicide is precisely one who is desperate and has a motive.

This short novel is not depressing, in spite of its plot, but it's not cheerful either, despite its title; slices of life, raw and unembellished, are counterbalanced by humor (sometimes, not so subtle). My problem with the plot, besides some predictable episodes, was that I couldn't take it seriously, I couldn't believe in the narrator and his story. I was so uninvolved that I didn't care if he took his life or not. I also disagree with one of his opinions - that, even if a person has a reserved attitude in life, things might happen nevertheless. He did go look for a whore at the train station, which prompted a chain of strange events; if he stayed at home, none of it would have happened.