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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

     

Fording the Stream of Consciousness

by
Dubravka Ugrešić


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To purchase Fording the Stream of Consciousness



Title: Fording the Stream of Consciousness
Author: Dubravka Ugrešić
Genre: Novel
Written: 1988
Length: 225 pages
Original in: Serbo-Croatian
Availability: Fording the Stream of Consciousness - US
Fording the Stream of Consciousness - UK
Fording the Stream of Consciousness - Canada
Der goldene Finger - Deutschland
  • Croatian title: Forsiranje romana-reke
  • Translated by Michael Henry Heim

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Our Assessment:

B : an interesting literary-conference novel, from a more Eastern European point of view

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Times Book Rev. B 20/3/1994 Edward Allen
TLS . 22/3/1991 Neil Taylor

  From the Reviews:
  • "What seems most striking in Ms. Ugresic's novel is not so much the comedy-of-manners aspect but the radically different ways in which different nationalities regard the past. For us in luckier countries, history is something we try to understand and learn from. For most of Ms. Ugresic's characters -- however civil or clownish their outward demeanor -- history is an insult, a wound to nurse, an old Balkan blood feud that never quite got settled." - Edward Allen, The New York Times Book Review

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:

       Setting a story or novel at a conference attended by literary figures and academics has become a mainstay of modern literature, a small little branch on which authors as illustrious as Updike and Lodge have perched. The setting is a natural, and it allows authors to make fun of each other and each other's ways. Dubravka Ugresic's 1988 novel, written before the Iron Curtain was rent, offers a slightly different perspective while using this familiar backdrop. Theoretically still non-aligned, post-Tito Yugoslavia was already a mess at that time, but nowhere near the mess we are now familiar with.
       Ugresic, playfully post-modernist, cleverly builds up her book. Populated by the international literary crowd, jet setting from the Iowa Writers Workshop to Moscow to New York to Havana to Zagreb, this is a rarefied world (of which Ugresic is a very active member). Straddling East and West in the Cold War's last days Ugresic's Yugoslavian characters offer an ironic look at writers from the dominant Soviet Union and overwhelming America (as well as familiar Europe, East and West).
       Cosmopolitan in tone and character (whereby it should be remembered that cosmopolitanism was a dire insult (and occasionally even a crime) in the communist world), the novel is divided into sections, each representing the events of a day, the headings written in French ("Jeudi, le 8 mai"). There is much fairly clever and fairly literary dialogue, as well as epistolary chapters. There is the constant clash of the many cultures, missing manuscripts, there is even a swimming-pool death. Sure, it's writing workshop stuff, but it has that international whiff and a somewhat original p.o.v. and it is entertaining enough.
       Fording the Stream of Consciousness is a novel about the struggle of writing, and surviving as a writer -- a struggle that varies in form and substance in the different cultures. Solidly written, fairly entertaining, it should amuse the literary crowd (though it might annoy those who think authors pay far too much attention to themselves as is).

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Links:

Reviews: Dubravka Ugrešić: Other books by Dubravka Ugresic under Review: Other books of interest under Review:

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About the Author:

       Dubravka Ugrešić was born in 1949, in Yugoslavia (now Croatia). Her writing has been translated into numerous languages. She was awarded the prestigious Heinrich Mann Prize in 2000.

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