The Boy and his Toys (Part Three)

It was not, I confess, deliberate, that hasty ending to the last post. To leave my discussion of Luigi Narsceni’s collection of unfinished stories unfinished would be, I think, too smart for my own good. That in which I was involved was, in fact, nothing more than a long pause for breath. Now, said breath having been drawn in, swallowed and duly enjoyed, let us continue where we left off…

For instance: The Department, a project that Narsceni introduces on p.127, develops on p.128 and drops, for no good reason, on.p.129. The Department is the story of six teachers working in the English department of a college in Boston Spa, in the county of Yorkshire. They are all creatively minded but, like Narsceni, have a tendency towards the unfinished, along with a very English reluctance to admit that they write for pleasure. Thus each teacher works on his or her novel on the quiet, discussing them constantly, but never directly. It is a story of the clash, and relationship, between our inner and outer lives. I say ‘is’: I mean, of course, ‘could be’. The Department exists no more than the novels of the characters that appear within it.

On p.212 we have another of my favourites: Roberta Gravesen’s Greek Riffs, followed directly by The Diaries of Sir Henry Skerryman. I cannot say which I prefer; which I would most like to see finished. On reflection, I think the latter appeals most:  the diaries of a small man who gives away all his possessions, flees to Kenya and lives on stilts with a herd of giraffes. The former would, perhaps, come a little too close to the work of Dinos Teriotis (author of Perseus and the Pepper Grinder and The Golden Bomber Jacket).

Elsewhere, I am drawn into even less developed plots, some of which barely extend beyond titles. On p.301 we find the line ‘Alasdair Le Gaurekelle Stands Up For Himself At Last’. A string of words only, but they have a strange appeal nonetheless. Already I want to know more.

There, however, it ends. One wants to know what one will never know. Narsceni’s Toys is all about stimulating, not satisfying, the imaginations of its readers. It frustrates and excites you in equal measure: you want to hurl it across the room, but there it is, still, nestled like a baby lamb in your lap. Narsceni charms and irritates: he pushes you to the edge of detestation, but something stops you from falling into the dark hole of hate. What is it? Is it the possibility that, however small his chances of ever seeing an idea through are, one has to admit that his ideas are better than most of those you’ve ever come up with? With some hesistation, I am inclined to go with this. The only question that remains is: why can’t someone else finish that which Narsceni has started?

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