Honey, I Killed Our Cats - Dorota Masłowska
The latest novel from Poland's literary enfant terrible takes place within the American pop imaginarium, weaving an urban tale of two independent young women through the author's signature lexicon of street slang and mass-media-driven lingo.
The bond between the two friends is rattled when one (Jo/Joanna) leaves the single life at the behest of a new boyfriend. Fah (Farrah) finds refuge in a new friendship with Go (Gosia/Margot), an eccentric hipster with a knack for getting her way. The impetus of the action resides in the language, rather than any particular plot twists. There are several dimensions at work within the book, poking at intergenerational issues, subcultures, the media, celebrity culture and pseudo-intellectualism on a global scale. Masłowska's book is an astute observation of the superficiality of a society driven by marketing and commerce.
The portrait of the modern world painted by Dorota Masłowska isn't a flattering one. It is a world full of shrieks and yells, guffaws and snickers, broken heels and beer bottles, popping champagne corks, cocaine sniffed off of toilets and the rubbery snap of condoms. The hectic, chaotic freedoms of the weekend are considered a just reward for the toil of the work week - even if it leads to making a total idiot of oneself, enduring bodily harm and falling asleep with one's head in the toilet. The observation of her generation's feeble attempts at living a full life - with the candle appropriately burning at both ends - in such a sincere manner gives an honest glimpse at the real-life nature of popular culture, beyond the shiny pages of lifestyle magazines.
Jo had thin legs and forever bashed-up pumps teetering on battered, off-centred, zig-zagging heels that she would touch up nonstop with nail polish; this unstable vertical construction swayed under the gravity of the massive corpus. Her head was set right upon her shoulders, as if the Creator wanted to see if the neck might, after all, prove a superfluous invention.
Fah's assessment of her buddy is intended as an objective opinion, albeit an unfortunate one, presented before the girls go their separate ways. They drank coffees at the Bad Berry, exhibiting their unique qualities - which, alas, seem confined to the stylish frames of their eyeglasses. They don't pay much mind to the males of the species and when they do, it's more along the lines of "He smelled like a goat who'd just brushed his teeth" or "a pale boy, overweight and transparent like marzipan" whose eyes were like
sparsely scattered mixed nuts that glinted somewhere deep in the doughy face; that face, smeared in grease, crowned by a few symbolic long strands of hair, expressed a great desire to bury itself into a pillow and not to wake up for many, many millions of years, when it was all over.
Having gained fame for the sharpness of her tongue and wit in Snow White and Russian Red (translated into over a dozen languages and made into a movie by Xawery Żuławski), at barely 30 years of age Masłowska carries out another successful attack on her peers, on the vacant, pseudo-erudite, nonsensical obsessions of the Facebook generation, of today's Vanity Fair, one set in an imaginary world that in large measure appears a caricature of American society. In an interview with Polityka magazine, Masłowska says,
Up until now I wrote about the so-called here and now, it was enough to step outside of my house and everything spoke to me, now I had to work within a world carefully constructed from bits of another reality. I had to create everything, build it bit by bit. Ambitious, but also very laborious. But it was out of exhaustion with the matter of Poland that a completely abstract subject took over me, I needed an escape, an excursion.
As of the book's Polish publication, no plans have been announced for foreign editions.
Kochanie, zabiłam nasze koty (Honey, I Killed Our Cats)
Publisher Noir sur Blanc, Warsaw, October 2012
145 x 235 mm, ss. 160, hardcover
Author: Agnieszka Le Nart based on the original Polish text by Janusz R. Kowalczyk, October 2012Janusz R. Kowalczyk