Reviews

THE AUTHOR WHO SPEAKS A MILLION WORDS THROUGH A HANDFUL OF HIGHLY ACCOMPLISHED BOOKS: “The Mosaic of the Broken Soul”, “Fiume- The Lost River”, “The Lonely Poet and other stories”

Much like a painter of great classical masterpieces, Branka Cubrilo’s character portraits reach out beyond the canvas into the Universe without. They take the reader upon their quest, turning him into a most willing protagonist. This in itself is no ordinary accomplishment for any writer!

There is unity and harmony linking all Branka’s protagonists; they’re rounded characters, in search of Truth and meaning for themselves, whilst in their dealings with others,  they undergo scrutiny through the prism of faith, loyalty and trust. They travel through geographical spaces and time, giving them time to find themselves deep within:

“Only one kind of man is able to be trustworthy and faithful to others: the one who has faith and trust in himself.”  (P.80 ‘The Mosaic…’)

Circumstance, fate and adversity all lead the players in different directions, but Branka coaxes each and one back to reflect upon the unfathomable depths of their psyche and  the possibilities of interaction with others. Harmony always prevails as self-control takes over. The author arouses endless questioning, far beyond the limits of the written page. How she manages to do so with simple, unassuming words and matter-of-fact sentences is a testimony to her talent as a poetess.

Her style is infused with pace and rhythm, and she has a perfect mastery of the surprise versus suspense technique much as a playwright would. But most importantly, the message that comes across is respect and affection for the erring of the human soul. Branka Cubrilo judges not, she preaches not, yet  on the contrary manages to turn human foibles into poetry! It takes an outstanding writer to do so, someone whose insight into life goes far beyond a mere talent for writing fiction.

Having laid down the latest of Branka’s publications, one can’t help feeling impatient to read the next!

– Lidija Berlot


 

THE INs-AND-OUTs OF BAD FAITH, AS REVEALED BY BRANKA CUBRILO

The talented author Branka Cubrilo illustrates the well-known concept of Bad Faith, coined by Sartre. Otto Visconti is given the opportunity to state his case  in the first of her latest collection of short stories . He does so much like Giono in “Les Grands Chemins” where the professional conman tells of his adventures. The first-person narrator embarks upon his account, frequently butting-in his own dialogue to dwell on “She”, “mother”, “Simona” and others…
The story reads well and not without awakening a sense of urgency in the reader, much like a thriller by Griffith or Ruth Rendall.  One is nevertheless more eager to find out who this puzzling narrator is than to learn about the plot of his story. This ensues from Otto’s own story-telling, which makes him come across as a perfectly obnoxious, highly undesirable character. Rather than cynical, he is the embodiment of extreme bad faith!  He lies to just about everyone under the sun, most of all to himself, and all the while he metes out accusations of perjury to everyone around him. This turns into caricature as he stares at passengers in public transport, much like an ill-brought up child, going as far as to boast of his accomplishment! Highly unsociable and unwilling to owe anything to anyone, Otto yet dares reproach his step-father with his change of name and with apparently betraying his origins. Seeing him so deeply embedded in lies, the reader can’t help doubting his talent as a poet – what if that too, were mere fantasy? What if Otto were spinning yarns only so as to convince himself that they were true!
The reader thus hastens to unravel  Otto’s story, unveiling his character as an avid reader of all classical poets and writers, more surprisingly as a genuine poet himself, and an author of a published collection of poems, a man whose bad faith was erected as a defence mechansim  aiming to protect his soul from the onslaught of what he sees as a soulless crowd.
This technique is again resorted to in “The Brontë Sisters”, where an intelligent but nasty little rascal of a girl, totally self-centered, explains away her unparalleled rudeness  through all sorts of excuses including that of her cultural differences. This latter forms a leitmotif in Branka Cubrilo’s writing. It casts one back to Otto’s “Where the hell is Australia?”, imagining the country to be but a vast desert wasteland! (One wonders how he would have defined “home”!)
This commendable Australian author embarks upon manifold hitherto unexplored channels of human character portrayal. Yet her writing remains light-hearted and spirited. One can tell she is having fun! This book is definitely an eye-opener for all those interested in life and the erring of man in the social jungle.
– René Sacher

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