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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 76 | volume XIV | January-February, 2011



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 76January-February, 2011

Eight walks in the fictional woods

(Rumena Bužarovska: Wisdom Tooth, Blesok, Skopje, 2010)

p. 1
Lidija Kapuševska-Drakulevska

    After the extraordinary debut of her short story collection Scribbles, the latest collection by Rumena Bužarovska, an author who belongs to the new generation of Macedonian contemporary short-story writers, brings us a total of eight stories. Hence, the title of the book Wisdom Tooth (bearing the title of one of the stories) also carries symbolic meaning:[1] the number eight, among other things, signifies cosmic balance, which emphasizes the inner logic and strong composition of the collection. With this book Bužarovska offers eight “walks in the fictional woods” – to paraphrase Umberto Eco and his “Six walks in the fictional woods”, the six Norton lectures held at Harvard University in 1992 and 1993. Naturally, the woods stand as a metaphor for the narrative.
    Walk no. 1
    “A childhood friend of mine, whom I hadn’t seen for years, wrote to me after the publication of my second novel, Foucault’s Pendulum: ‘Dear Umberto, I do not recall having told you the pathetic story of my uncle and aunt, but I think you were very indiscreet to use it in your novel.’ Well, in my book I recount a few episodes concerning an ‘Uncle Charles’ and an ‘Aunt Catherine’ who are the uncle and aunt of the protagonist, Jacopo Belpo, and it is true that these characters really did exist: with a few alterations, I tell a story from my childhood concerning an uncle and aunt––who had, however, different names. I wrote back to my friend saying that Uncle Charles and Aunt Catherine were my relations, not his, and that therefore I had the copyright; I was not even aware that he had had any uncles or aunts. My friend apologized: he had been so absorbed by the story that he thought he could recognize some incidents that had happened to his uncle and aunt––which is not impossible, because in wartime (which was the period to which my memories went back) similar things happen to different uncles and aunts” (Eco, 1993: 9).
    Something similar happens when we first start reading the short stories in Wisdom Tooth: walking through Rumena’s fictional woods, we feel as if we are in our own private garden. Her stories are soaked in “the living life” (as Boris Pasternak used to say), but do not exhibit as much as a glimpse of the pathetic. The characters are so suggestive in their “flesh and blood” portrayal, that the reader, at the moment of


1. The Macedonian equivalent of the English word for “wisdom tooth” is literally “the eighth (tooth)”. Hence the double meaning of the title.

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