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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


None Like Her

Jela Krečič

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To purchase None Like Her

Title: None Like Her
Author: Jela Krečič
Genre: Novel
Written: 2015 (Eng. 2016)
Length: 288 pages
Original in: Slovenian
Availability: None Like Her - US
None Like Her - UK
None Like Her - Canada
  • Slovenian title: Ni druge
  • Translated by Olivia Hellewell

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Our Assessment:

B : comfortably relaxed tale of life and (looking for) love in contemporary Slovenia

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Delo . 30/6/2015 Aljoša Harlamov
SiolNET . 2/6/2015 Deja Crnović

  From the Reviews:
  • "V tem je avtorici mimogrede uspel brezkompromisen portret sodobne družbe, ki jo opredeljuje naivni postmoderni hedonizem. Toda na isti način se Matjaž izogiba tudi resnega razmisleka o samem sebi ter o čustvih in razmerjih, v katera se zapleta. (...) Morda je za odtenek predolg (...) a se bere izredno tekoče in kratkočasno." - Aljoša Harlamov, Delo

  • "Zaradi živahnega sloga pisanja, bistrih dialogov in premišljene strukture je roman Ni druge izjemno berljiv, vsebinsko bogat, poln referenc na svet, v katerem živimo, zaradi piknika pri urednici Dela pa še posebej zabaven za poklicne kolege in kolegice avtorice." - Deja Crnović, SiolNET

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:

       None Like Her is a quest tale of sorts: after the collapse of his longtime relationship with Sara, photographer Matjaž has trouble moving on but gives it a try, and over the course of the next year hooks up (and doesn't) with a variety of women. Can anyone replace Sara ? Can he win Sara back ? Does he want to ?
       For much of None Like Her the structure of the story is: new chapter, new girl. Matjaž maintains: "I'm not trying to test out every type of woman here", but it can come to seem like he is. Each episode finds Matjaž connecting with yet another person, in a fairly amusing series of not so much terribly failed dates but rather encounters of romantic potential that, for one reason or another, can't or don't lead anywhere. Some of the dates are abruptly broken off before they can really get going, while others lead to a night spent together (with and without sex). Regardless, there are always complications and barriers, preventing a romantic relationship from developing. For the most part Matjaž can just shrug them off and move on; indeed, part of the appeal -- and a saving grace -- of the novel is that it doesn't focus simply on potential romance (i.e. it's not simply a desperately-looking-for-love story), but acknowledges that this is only part of Matjaž's life as he putters along -- with generally limited ambition, regardless.
       Matjaž lives in Ljubljana, which might qualify as a city but which has a lot of the small-town to it. Matjaž's old and new crowds often overlap and meet, and friends from school -- including some who have moved on to more successful careers, or have started families -- often cross his path, reminders of what he hasn't accomplished yet. (In some cases he's fine with that: among the few things that are made clear is that: "Matjaž didn't find children cute, sweet and utterly adorable. No, he saw a pure evil in them, one that sucked parents dry.")
       There's a lot of drinking, and many parties and celebrations; it's a way of getting people together. There are some excursions too, as Matjaž also lets himself be dragooned into joining a group of old-time Yugoslavian nationalist nostalgists, to celebrate Tito's birthday in Bosnian Jajce. As Krečič puts it in one of the book's best lines -- also capturing exactly Matjaž uncommitted, aimless feel:

These things often happen: one minute you've come over to help move a fridge, and the next thing you know you're on the road to Jajce.
       Yugoslavian history is always in the background of the novel, coming most obviously to the fore here. There's a good deal of nostalgia about the (supposedly) good old days, and while Matjaž doesn't fall for that, he isn't entirely uncomfortable with the feeling -- not what the old-timers miss, but that feeling of missing; after all, his longing for Sara is just a different kind of nostalgia. As is to be expected in a novel where a character is trying to find love, it's clear he's also trying to 'find himself', as it were -- and contemporary Slovenia, a small state that was once part of something bigger, and its own uneasy identity makes for an effective backdrop to that (without Krečič delving too deeply into politics and uglier histories).
       His friends constantly nudge and egg Matjaž on -- and call him out on his attitude: "You're fluent in shameless", one tells him, and complains:
Why does everything have to be a joke or a piss-take, why can't you just listen to me ?
       But, of course, for the reader part of the appeal is Matjaž's attitude -- and what it leads to, allowing the (not-quite-)hero to meander through life and Ljubljana and any number of women without anything getting too serious.
       The pace slows down eventually. Matjaž finally reconnects with Sara, too, giving him the opportunity to decide whether he wants to try to recapture what he lost, or (continue to) move on. And everything culminates in a wedding, which Matjaž attends in his capacity as photographer but which offers other opportunities too.
       None Like Her isn't quite just a novel of a man trying out different women for size (and them trying him out, too -- it is a two-way street), even as readers might at some points feel like the priest Matjaž summarizes (t)his story for, who complains: "I'm already confused by all the names". It's a bit more than a light-hearted romance -- though that at the cost of dragging a bit -- but offers a nice and very broad slice of contemporary Slovenian life with all the characters Matjaž encounters and is involved with. It's all reasonably well done -- amiable, if unexceptional -- and makes for an agreeable read.

- M.A.Orthofer, 22 January 2017

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None Like Her: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Slovenian journalist and author Jela Krečič was born in 1979. (And, yes, she is married to Slavoj Žižek.)

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© 2017 the complete review

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