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Adio kauboju Dada has grown up in a small town in Croatia from which she escaped as soon a she could at the age of eighteen But she is drawn back to this bizarre town by the horrible suicide of her younger brother Daniel The book is told from Dada’s point of view and we are given information about her life and hometown as Dada remembers it She speaks of memory being like a tape that “rolls forward and backwards Fw stop rew stop rec play stop it stops at important places some images flicker dimly frozen in a permanent pause unclear” The narrative runs in the same way that Dada describes a tape sometimes we get a passage that is an old memory and then all of sudden we are thrust into her present; Dada also likes to fast forward to her future and speculate on what she will do nextThe setting is a coastal town in Croatia which is hot dirty and badly polluted Dada’s own father died from an acute case of asbestos poisoning People in the town especially the children love old westerns and when they were young Dada and her brother Daniel act out scenes from the westerns they have watched at the local movie theater Like a typical American western that takes place on the border between civilization and the vastly unorganized territory Croatia at the time also occupies a space somewhere between civilization and a strange wilderness The western theme is fitting for a place like Croatia which was torn apart by war in the Balkans and it is Dada’s generation that is still trying to recover from this conflictDada describes many eccentric characters that she has known since childhood; many residents of this town that she calls the “Old Settlement” do not seem to conform to what most would consider normal social behavior For example her great grandmother who was a diabetic invalid is described as the “insatiable one” because of her reputation for sex Professor Herr a neighbor of Dada’s family and the local vet has his home ransacked by a group of young people and he mysteriously disappears soon after It also seems that he is the only one who has any answers about Daniel’s mysterious and puzzling deathThe cowboy and western theme is further developed when a group of actors and extras show up to film a western style movie All of the extras hang around the Old Settlement with their big hats and belt buckles Some of them even start shooting chickens with their pistols Dada has a very brief and passionate affair with one of these extras named Angelo It appears that Angelo also knew Dada’s brother Daniel and although he denies it he might have some knowledge about Daniel’s mysterious deathThe final part of the book comes to a very fast paced and dramatic conclusion The circumstances of Daniel’s death are revealed amidst a showdown between the fake cowboys and one of the eccentric villagers I was not surprised to learn that this author is also a poet since many of the lines in this book blur the distinction between lyric and prose In the end we are reminded that cowboys although a nice fantasy as a short distraction are not real and that oftentimes there will never be a hero riding into town on that white horse Sometimes the bad guys do win For of my reviews please visit wwwthebookbindersdaughtercom A deeply personal piece of unfinished business draws Dada the spirited heroine of Farewell Cowboy from the towers of Zagreb back to the grimy streets of her hometown on the shores of the Adriatic in this debut novel from Croatian poet and writer Olja Savičević Once she arrives her first task is to relieve her older sister of the responsibility of keeping track of their mother who seems to be surviving on a routine of pharmaceuticals soap operas and bi weekly treks to the cemetery to visit the graves of her son and husband But at the heart of Dada’s return to the Old Settlement is a need to lay to rest her uestions surrounding the suicide of her beloved younger brother Daniel several years earlierFor complete review see In summer 2009 Dada aka Rusty returns to her Croatian hometown to care for her mother who her sister reports has become increasingly dependent on Valium sleeping pills and alcohol Back in Zagreb she’d been working as a photographer for a website that rips off other people’s stories and sleeping with someone else’s husband Going home means abandoning that secondhand life and facing up to the fact of her brother’s death – when he was 18 he threw himself under a train “One has to sit down beside one’s demon and mollify it until it’s calm – that’s all perhaps that can be done” she musesNow for the title Dada’s late father brother and friends “the Irouois Brothers” were all big on cowboys and Indians Her father who worked for The Balkan Cinema was always on the cowboys’ side the presumed side of justice and honor When news comes that a spaghetti western actordirector named Ned Montgomery will be passing through town it causes Dada to think about her father and her brother and what’s about the workings of her own memory “memory is the present of all remembered events But memory is also the saboteur editor in the back room cutting and pasting reframing to the very end or at least until Alzheimer’s”I wasn’t sure about the whole cowboy thing especially a third person omniscient interlude labeled “Western” as opposed to Part One “Eastern” about Ned’s misadventures in Croatia Perhaps the cowboy movies’ stereotypical standoff of races is meant to echo what happened in the former Yugoslavia not so long ago; “The advent of the war had a way of making people’s ethnicity everybody’s business” Dada recalls But overall the plot felt to me like a bit of a muddle Dada goes some places sees some people talks and thinks about her brother helps her mother out a bit and then declares “it’s time for me to ride off into the sunset” and gets back on a trainAnyway this was interesting in places and I liked some of the descriptive language like “You’ll never get rid of the damp and woodworm the stink of burned onions or the kids on your steps” The dialogue however sometimes seems coarse and unlearned – non agreement of subject and verb eliding some vowels etc eg “Death don’t bother me none” I guess it was the translator’s choice to try to convey the slangy level of the dictionThis was named the best Croatian novel of 2011 Savičević is the author of six poetry collections and a story collection Thanks to McSweeney’s for sending a digital copy for review Honestly I am blown away by the 379 grading that this book is receiving Although Savicevic uses an abundance of words she never says anything I could not tell you one thing that happened in this book It was as if some very unremarkable person with an eually unremarkable life pocket dialed you and left a voicemail that was euivalent to 200 pages It felt like torture slogging through this I don't think I could convey how much I disliked this book Just terrible Awesome cover artwork tho Farewell Goodbye sees the main character Dada return to her family home in Croatia to see her sister and her mother and on a search for the truth of why her brother had died Also returning to the village is the vet who lived next door to which her brother Daniel had died The cowboy in the detail being a reference to her brothers like of western movies along with their predeceased father who died at a young age a film lover who worked first in the cinema then at a video shop As a crossover to this the old western star Ned Montgomery is in Croatia to direct a new movie with some filming on location close to the town There is a shadow of the wars that had gripped the Balkans and affected Dada reminisces about the time her sister and her were interviewed for a radio project by German students There is also families that had fled the town at the outbreak of the war A memory that comes to mind is that they'd play cowboys and indians because if they played Croatian and Serbians no one would want to be the Serbians in that game not even the children with Serbian identity In some ways the vet reminds of Doc in Sweet Thursday and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck I think it may be the mix of the very educated person something the vet acknowledges that he is over educated The other characters in this like Angelo The Giggolo and Maria are of an eccentric nature and add substance to the portrait of the poor area to which Dada has returned Savicevic's prose is captivating at times I felt I needed to stop sit back and absorb the beauty of her writing It is exuisite in the descriptions verging on lyrical There is also a humour to her Savicevic in this novel shows herself to be a fine writer a novel that while the main theme may not be enjoyable is itself a novel to sit back and enjoy A particular credit for this is the superb translation by Celia Hawkesworth who just captured the novel marvellously A beautiful novel Set in a dreary town on the Adriatic coast the novel follows the heroine Dada as she tries to find out why her younger and much loved brother Daniel threw himself under a train a few years earlierThe tone of disillusionment and decay shrouds the book like a fog hanging over a sea the country is recovering from the Balkan Wars of the 1990s; Dada is listless after a relationship breakdown; and her family is struggling to live with the trauma of Daniel’s deathThe “plot comes a distant second to the picaresue cast of characters and the language and Savičević’s background as a poet is evident in some of the beautiful imagery and descriptions of the decrepit town Overall while the story is too diffuse for the novel to be called truly gripping Savičević writes with power and verve Well done to Istros Books for bringing her work to English speaking readersFull review on A powerful moving but curious bookEverything is fractured broken and split apart The reasons behind the suicide the town in which it is set the purpose of any character's actions the narrative and order Everything jumps in and out of focus and nothing is ever uite right And this is a fitting way to tell a story set in a town so forgotten so depressed that it holds its own back; the only way to leave it let alone have a chance to succeed is to leave But the town draws the narrator backAt every time the characters seem to have little say in their actions as though habit formed their decisionsIt's a strange book Wonderful and weird The author writes poetry That can't be coincidental to how this book turned out I picked this up after reading an excerpt from the McSweeney's website and because it had an interesting titleI'm not uite sure if anything happens in this book Though Savičević uses many words she conveys little The characters are flat archetypal forgettable; whatever semblance of plot feels forced Reading this sapped my energy imagine the mental fog that accompanies getting out of bed in the morning or wandering around in a literal fog and having no idea which direction is which Is it an accomplishment that this deflected my mind to unrelated things even as I tried forcing it to concentrate?On the plus side some super witty sentences earn this an extra star “I tako Stigla sam Da stigla Ja sam se vratila u taj grad Koji je golema ropotarnica blato i maslinici divota prašine večeri na zapuštenoj terasi hotela Ilirija teški metali u zraku izmet i borovina mačke i klizava riblja krljušt na masnom brodskom navozu i zategnuto sve do studenog kad zapušu lebići”Ovim riječima Ruzinava se u ljeto 200X vraća u primorsko mjestašce a avantura čitanja romana Adio kauboju Olje Savičević Ivančević počinje pritegnite uzde čvrsto i meko sjednite u sedlu natucite šešir budite cool i dostojanstveni jer upravo ste ujahali u roman koji ulazi u legenduAdio kauboju je roman o netoleranciji o nasilju o drugima i drugačijima u ovom slučaju o Danijelu bratu Ruzinave i Braći Irokezima o obitelji u kojoj su ostale dvije sestre i majka i njihovim odnosima o generaciji koja se osipa o lokalnom tranzicijskom gazdi Vrdovđeku o lažnim herojima Nedu Montgomeryju i Anđelu s usnom harmonikom – jasno je nalazimo se u srcu vesterna – tu je i istraga jedne smrti željezni konj u punom trku misteriozno pismo mailovi spisateljica gospođa 0 kućni porno videoRoman je ispričan kroz poetske fragmente gustoće urana i opojnosti kanabisa skakućući u vremenu i prostoru i skupljajući se prema kraju velikom finalu s pucanjem i putovanjemU ovom romanu su se sreli Michael Ondaatje i Sergio Leone iz likova kao da progovara nešto od duha otočana Ranka Marinkovića a za glazbu su bili zaduženi Ennio Morricone i Toma Bebić Mogli bismo reći bilo jednom u Starom Naselju pored mora A tako je i danas An interesting no holds barred and at times almost unbearably sad portrayal of the generation most affected by the war in Yugoslavia and trying to make a life after and in spite of it all Yet unexpectedly the language and insights are not high flown and dramatic but rendered with a clear eyed almost cynical and mocking tone of a younger generation

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