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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Our Circus Presents ...

Lucian Dan Teodorovici

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To purchase Our Circus Presents ...

Title: Our Circus Presents ...
Author: Lucian Dan Teodorovici
Genre: Novel
Written: 2002 (Eng. 2009)
Length: 189 pages
Original in: Romanian
Availability: Our Circus Presents ... - US
Our Circus Presents ... - UK
Our Circus Presents ... - Canada
  • Romanian title: Circul nostru vă prezintă
  • Translated by Alistair Ian Blyth

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Our Assessment:

B- : like the failed suicide-attempts of the novel, doesn't really go anywhere

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Observator Cultural . 10/2002 Florina Pirjol
Publishers Weekly . 28/9/2009 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "Cartea, per ansamblu, eo ironie la adresa conventionalismelor de tot felul si titlul o confirma, trimitind instantaneu la clasicizatul „lumea ca teatru“ care, adaptat contemporaneitatii, devine „lumea ca circ“, sau chiar „Romania ca circ“ (de altfel, ipostazierea metaforica a Romaniei devine un leitmotiv al vremurilor). (...) Observatia inteligenta, dialogul spumos si firesc, umorul frizind bascalia de multe ori, ca si expresia strunita, fara redundante, fac din acest roman o carte remarcabila, iar din Lucian Dan Teodorovici un autor de raftul intii." - Florina Pirjol, Observator Cultural

  • "In the end, though, for all its playfulness, there's no rhyme, reason or plot to this sadly inexplicable adventure." - Publishers Weekly

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:

       Our Circus Presents ... begins promisingly enough, with the narrator perched on the: "cold ledge of a fifth-floor window". Yes, "just as on every other day", he's leaning towards suicide -- and, like every day, never leans out quite far enough. He realizes his efforts are fairly ridiculous and pathetic, but at least there's some interaction with other humans when they talk him down from (or complain about) his suicidal tendencies.
       He obviously runs with the wrong crowd, too: among his few friends is a theology seminar graduate who tried to kill himself by having as much sex as possible, the (typically, for this book, bizarre) idea being that he'd contract some fatal disease. He fails -- only contracting any number of curable venereal diseases -- and then decides on a new plan, to drink himself to death -- but only with "the finest whiskey" (which, of course, he can't afford, leading him to postpone the supposedly inevitable until he's saved up enough to go out in style).
       The narrator also comes to the rescue of yet another would-be suicide -- who turns out to be yet another person who likes to go through the motions but obviously isn't really all that eager to go all the way through with it.
       The narrator, too, is called out by his supposedly suicidal friends:

     "You've given yourself away," he said. "Now do you see why I told you that you'd never kill yourself ? Because you have too many motives. That's the main, in fact the sole motive a normal person should have for killing himself: not to have any motive. Because behind each of those motives lies hidden a wish. And any wish, believe me, brings with it some hope of fulfillment.
       Sex is certainly one of those wishes (and not just for the narrator), and the narrator currently isn't getting enough of it; he does mention his affair with a considerably older neighbor who then moved away. Otherwise there's not much to the narrator's life: other than that he's thirty-two, a lay-about (with a successful older brother), and once dabbled at being a Jehovah's Witness he reveals very little about himself.
       He does admit there's not a whole lot going on in his life:
     There are days -- what am I saying: months ! -- when I desperately wait for events, praying for something the hell to happen, hoping for some phone call to wrench me out of the numbness, to inform me that, somewhere in the apparently so immobile world, something is happening worthy of my attention. But the phone call doesn't come, however much I pine away waiting for it.
       He may be a very passive guy, but at least there is a bit of action in the novel -- some violence, a few thwarted suicides, some off-scene drama. Despite death hovering over all of it, it's surprisingly boring. There's quite a bit of suicidal theorizing and philosophizing, too, and that too isn't very compelling; by comparison, even something like Jean Teulé's The Suicide Shop offers a sharper take on the subject.
       Our Circus Presents ... merely meanders. Yes, there's a bit of dramatic tension surrounding the death and the possible death of some of the secondary characters, but for the most part Teodorovici just seems to be treading water. This may be a fair representation of the new ennui of post-communist Romania (though you could barely tell where or when the novel is set, as the narrator is largely inattentive to anything except for his extremely limited world), but it doesn't make for much of a read. The meandering parts are done well enough -- the scenes and episodes read well enough, with the occasional amusing scene -- but there doesn't seem to be much of a point to it. Yet the novel does not manage to revel in any sense of pointlessness, either, which the subject-matter would certainly have also allowed for.
       Teodorovici writes well enough, but he hasn't told much of a story. His characters remain nameless -- appropriately enough, since the reader hardly cares who they are. And even something as serious as suicide remains little more than a game here, with the lone (possible) instance where it's not left far too peripheral.
       A dud.

- M.A.Orthofer, 21 December 2009

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Our Circus Presents ...: Reviews: Lucian Dan Teodorovici: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Romanian author Lucian Dan Teodorovici was born in 1975.

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