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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Любко Дереш

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Title: Культ
Author: Любко Дереш
Genre: Novel
Written: 2001
Length: 208 pages
Original in: Ukrainian
Availability: Kult - Deutschland
Культ (at Knyha.com)
  • Культ has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : strays a bit far into Lovecraftian terror, but generally solid

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ A 1/10/2005 Richard Kämmerlings
NZZ . 20/10/2005 Karl-Markus Gauß
Die Zeit A 10/11/2005 Georg Diez

  From the Reviews:
  • "In dem Maße, wie die Kult-Handlung Fahrt aufnimmt, moduliert Deresch die Atmosphäre seines Romans zur gothic novel. Was bis dahin lediglich wie eine galizische Burg Schreckenstein mit Drogenfreigabe erschien, wird zum anspielungsreichen Horrorthriller, der sich offen vor Stephen King und dem Altmeister des Genres H. P. Lovecraft verbeugt. (...) Immer spannender wird die Geschichte bis zum Showdown im Schulkeller, immer irrwitziger der Mix aus literarischen und popkulturellen Versatzstücken, immer atemraubender die Kühnheit, mit der Deresch Bildungszitate mit Esoterik, Trash und Splatter-Elementen zu einem großen literarischen Synkretismus verschmilzt." - Richard Kämmerlings, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Kult ist ein vielschichtiger, anspielungsreicher Roman, und dass er Kult wurde, hängt wohl auch damit zusammen, dass er sehr verschiedenen Lesern sehr Verschiedenes zu bieten hat.(...) Auf einer anderen Ebene entfaltet Kult ein ermüdendes Spiel mit literarischen Zitaten, die von Borges zu Kerouac, von Sartre zu Andruchowytsch reichen, sich zunehmend aber auf esoterische Geheimlehren wie jene von Carlos Castaneda beziehen. Je länger der Roman dauert, umso stärker gravitiert er, wenn nicht zum esoterischen Exerzitium, dann zur schwarzen Phantastik (.....) Deresch möchte also für jeden etwas bieten, und das ist zu viel und zu wenig zugleich." - Karl-Markus Gauß, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

  • "Dieses Buch leuchtet in der Nacht. Es schillert und lockt, es weicht zurück, es verführt und verstört, es grinst dich an und streckt dir die Zunge heraus, und mit dieser Zunge leckt es dir über deine Hand, was sich eklig anfühlt, aber auch gut. Dieses Buch zieht dich an durch seine Naivität, seine Direktheit, seine Abgeklärtheit, seine Angst; alles ist drin in diesem Buch" - Georg Diez, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Ljubko Deresch wrote Культ when he was only sixteen, but it's a surprisingly mature work, Deresch avoiding many of the pitfalls of the precocious authors of our day (and the wrong paths he goes down being ones that are popular among more practised authors too).
       The central character in Культ is Jurku Banzai, a biology student in his ninth semester at university who is sent to the Ukrainian backwater town of Midni Buky for practical training as a teacher at a local high school. Midni Buky is a sleepy place, lost like much of the country in the post-Soviet transition, almost everyone in their 20s and 30s having taken off in search of better opportunities. There are regular power cuts, and not much going on. There's some political extremism, but like most everything else it's pretty small-town.
       Banzai has his own issues, including some drug induced near-death experiences, the drug of choice being variations on mushrooms (though this is more experimentation than anything else -- he can almost never be quite sure of what he's taking). Drug excess in general is also limited: not much hard stuff has made it here yet, though there is a smoky hash-high 1960s feel to much of the novel.
       The school has its quirks and quirky characters, but Deresch's take on teenage Angst is solid, not completely dominated by the usual stereotypes and simplistic situations (though he is a bit too playful with the names). The best part of the novel is the first section, focussed on Banzai's acclimatising to this semi-normal place and situation. He also is attracted to a students, Daria Borges -- a relationship Deresch also handles with welcome (and thus all the more effective) restraint.
       There's also some sense of strangeness and even menace to Midni Buky, with a surprising number of owls loitering about and the like. Dreams, too, are a bit more lifelike than one might like -- though, in fact, Banzai isn't the only one who actually works at exerting as much control as possible over his dreams, trying to shape them to his will; unfortunately, he is also not the one who is most successful in this exercise.
       The supernatural -- strongly tinged with H.P.Lovecraft-lore -- first appears appealingly menacingly in the background, but eventually it moves front and centre, and dominates the book too strongly. Deresch offers some decent invention here, but it's a tough act to follow. It's a Mitteleuropa tale -- and fits almost as readily into the previous fin de siècle as its actual setting at the turn of the millennium. The atmosphere, beside Lovecraft, reminds almost as much of Meyrink and Kubin. The modern music influences mixed in and a nice use of Ukrainian cultural references across the ages -- from the classics through the works of Andrukhovych to Eurovision contest singers -- also work well.
       Deresch's flight of fancy is, ultimately, too ambitious, but for long stretches Культ is a very fine piece of fiction. It falls apart a bit, losing itself in a myth it can't quite sustain, but there's considerable talent at work here, and it gives a good impression of contemporary Ukraine.

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Культ: Reviews: Other books by Ljubko Deresch under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Ukrainian author Любко Дереш (Ljubko Deresch) was born in 1984.

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© 2005-2006 the complete review

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