5.0 out of 5 stars
Raw and Brilliant
December 21, 2018
Every so often a story collection surfaces that is so beyond the usual, that the reader gets a jolt realizing that here is something unique and special, a true work of literary art fueled by a fluid intelligence, dexterity of craft, and sheer brilliance. Such is the case with this book. The back cover informs the reader that author Alex M. Pruteanu was born and raised in Romania while it was under Communist rule. He was there. Collecting, however unconsciously, the stuff that would become the meat and potatoes of his future writings. I’m happy to say the hard life didn’t cost him morally. There is an empathic cord binding these stories together. For that I cheer this author.
Everything Rhymes With Orange, the opening story, takes place in a filthy, over-crowded state run orphanage and features a hapless character the other orphan boys dub Saint Paul. “He first came to us in the middle of a ruthless autumn, a year fraught with famine, lice, and wind. The director of the orphanage literally kicked Saint Paul in the small of his back as he deposited him into our dormitory, nearly breaking his spine… Our first thought as we stared at this crippled, feral cat standing in the middle of the stench-filled room was: another mouth to feed.” The writing is direct, and harsh when necessary, when it’s appropriate to the story. The author is here to serve the story. Not always an easy task. Pruteanu chose to end this one poetically and with a certain justice.
Another that totally captivated me is a love story titled “Those Years in Montreal.” It deals with defections, betrayals, and the ultimate betrayal. Such a great story I kept wishing it were a novel so I could continue reading. I can’t say enough good things about this book.