We expect a good book from the winner of the “Nike” 2020 award. And it doesn’t matter the genre, fantasy can be great too. Also one for the younger reader. And what do we expect from Michaśka?
Michał Witkowski, TangoMarch 2022
The sharpness of the razor is a matter of honor.
If the first sentence is not enough, listen to the next one, something different from the novel – performed by the author. And by the way, get into the mood of this black retro crime story. Curved retro.
The crime fiction convention imposes certain restrictions, so it can also get overloaded, but no – the crime fiction is a crime, maybe the author only took the easy way out in the finale, but we are rewarded with a daring operetta Princess Czardasza† And before that, old tangos, which, if someone gets into someone’s head (“Every night is bad and cloudy, sad tango notturno …”), will also have background music. And every crime is somehow related to the tango.
The year is 1930. The town of N***, not far from Drohobycz, but bigger than it is because it arose from recently discovered crude oil deposits. Shafts and industry ravaged the former idyllic landscape, obscuring everything with a stinking mist. And the locals also contribute to this as they don’t actually take their cigarettes out of their mouths, if they’re lucky they’re Egyptian, and if they’re even luckier it’s cigars.
Forward the SS, forward capitalism… [nowy Witkowski]
There are fumes of cigarette smoke everywhere. Prosperity is of course not for everyone. Some bask in wealth and debauchery, others can take advantage of the glittering glitz of the club’s showroom and the services of dancers and dancers, who are not limited to dancing. The rich shower their mistresses with chocolates and diamonds. Others live in extreme poverty – hunger, cold, tuberculosis, syphilis and syphilis, dilapidated toilets, dingy gardens, lichen on the walls… A whole host of horrors. A nightmarish working class area of Zarzecze, although there is no river in N***.
Communists will also be found. Various scum roam the city. Bandits, whores and pimps. In the brothel (Central Sink), naked girls on all fours carry soldiers who sing legionary songs. In the den, the ever-drunk floats go along with the woman’s corpse, because they have not noticed that she is dead. Did I mention it’s a retro overwhelmed? But that’s why we also find sad and lyrical moments here. And a lot of stench, or rather a stench, unless we go to the Gastronomia pub. There the duck with beetroot smells of forest and November field. And then more delicacies. Lots of food in this book, a bit retro. No ramen or other hummus.
Ten years ago, the elusive serial killer “Cook” roamed the city. It is not difficult to guess where this nickname comes from. Now “The Dancer” has appeared. Fags and whores are the victims of brutal murders. The criminal is hunted by the police chief Adolf Piątek, he reaches fifty, visually impaired, with a heavily blackened mustache and haircut. You wouldn’t pay five cents for it, and still. He also has a group of police helpers. Including Stanisława Wójcik, whose methods of extracting testimonies are absolutely reliable. And it is by no means a matter of sophisticated psychology.
In the afterword, the author confesses how exhausting it was for him this journey into the past, which he does not remember. What Michaśka doesn’t remember. And how many lectures he had to read. Novels written in 1930 never smell as beautiful and are not as atmospheric as today’s stylizations, he writes somewhat indecently, but reading Tangoit’s hard to disagree with him.
This trip has yielded good results, better for me than Krajewski’s deadly (I think it’s a word actually) serious stories. If I had to choose between Mock and Adolf Piątek, I would choose Piątek. I just had a lot of fun. I hope this time “hard work pays off” and Tango will be a summer hit. I wish the author this.
Radek Rak, agla. AlefPowergraph 2022
It was raining on Bracka Street, and to Sofia Kluk’s disappointment, it looked like no one would die that day.
Noble obligatory. After the winner of the Nike 2020 award, we expect a good book. And it doesn’t matter the genre, fantasy can be great too. Also one for the younger reader.
First – it’s hard to know who it’s for agla† The heroine is probably about seventeen? But she often acts like a twelve-year-old. And the same goes for this book, some easy for younger readers, some topics maybe more for teenagers, and lots of winks at the bastards. If something is for everyone, sometimes it is not for everyone. Out of kindness to the author, let’s say you can look at it differently – something fun for everyone.
In fantasy it is usually the case that someone travels somewhere, the character develops along the way and in the end the good wins. Here it is, or will be, because it’s only the first part. Most importantly, however, is the world that the author managed to create. The more convincing, the better. Then let’s take a look at the world Sofia lives in.
Bullying about the past is beating the underdog
A city similar to Krakow, next to it a steel factory, smog. It belongs to an empire ruled by the Tsar. A more mystical one, but a tsar is a tsar, you know. One of his titles is “Supreme Necromancer, Conqueror of Death, Risen.” System – bourgeois imperialism. Order is kept by the security service, the secret police have Kalmyk faces or are a bit dragons and smoke sports. The citizens harassed by them sign loyalty or decide to cooperate, the insurgents are taken to gulags.
Once upon a time, some people remember when the Red Revolution happened, but it fell and there was a Reconstruction. The revolution was bad and wanted to drown the whole world in blood. However, in the provinces, poor people sometimes miss the old days when there was order, and then the future re-privatization and everything was stolen. Young people have established secret communist circles, but they are naive and will not change anything. However, the world is unfair. (That’s it for the bastards.)
Who lives in this world? Here we have a lot of good. Besides ordinary people various magicians and on the other hand excluded groups: for example poor people who turned into gnomes and Jamowie depicted with a mixture of stereotypes about Roma, Jews and Arabs. Plus lots of strange creatures: ghosts, golems, crayfish (ha, ha), demons, gargoyles, titans, spiny ghosts, oxen and more.
In addition, the author has used many references and cultural tropes here. For example, the names of the characters are Kora, Osiris, Freyja … or Hoene-Wrońska. There is a street of Krokodyli. Refers to The Wizard of the Archipelago and to Little Princess† Hugo and Mann.
As for progressive content, it is provided by lesbian love and long descriptions of lesbian sex – the girl takes off her panties and a rose of pleasure blooms in her womb … There is also a sexless person, very exotic.
If you think I’ve revealed too much to you, I haven’t, these are just small examples. The author has built this world from a million known prefabs. Someone can do something with it, doesn’t want to discourage anyone, but I’m not convinced of that. I rather believe in the city of N***.
But maybe a good word at the end. I loved the entomological thread about butterflies, moths, larvae, chrysalises in the light of “natural gnosis”. By the way, after the author overloaded everything, he gave up a little, the novel calmed down and flowed quite quickly. I think the next part could be better.