In these five surrealist collages, waking life continually gives way before the onslaught of dreams. Yuriy Tarnawsky has condensed the vastness of scope typical of novels into shorter fragments - mininovels - that require the reader's active participation. The tone is a balance of dead-pan comedy and solemn gothic, sometimes a near-parody of wide-eyed candor, sometimes recounting utterly mad or barely conceivable states of affairs. A candidate for major surgery struggles unsuccessfully to avoid it. Two strangers meet, and eventually marry, after participating in scream therapy. A pianist stops playing because he believes his hand is not there when he sits at the keyboard. A character sees the giant blue and white flowers he has craved his whole life only at the instance of his electrocution. Tyler Pavarotti, a tailor, voluntarily takes a role in a production in which he will be killed. Tarnawsky's language is elegant and careful, and his studied concentration of rhythm allows his work to transcend prose, nestling somewhere within the realm of musical composition. Both tragic and beautiful, in these stories life dissolves in time like blood in water.
Yuriy Tarnawsky is the author of 19 collections of poetry, seven plays, nine books of fiction, a biography, and numerous articles and translations. Born in Ukraine but raised in the West, he has worked as a computer scientist and professor of Ukrainian literature and culture at Columbia University. He resides in White Plains, New York.