Though he came highly recommended (hm, by a book cover…?), I was a little disappointed with Mr. Popov’s prose. I was curious to read stories by an acclaimed Bulgarian writer of a younger generation (he’s a little over forty, I think), primarily because I lived in Bulgaria for four years and feel it like my second or third home (competing with the US 🙂 ). It might have been the fact that I started reading his collection right after finishing the brilliant “One-minute stories” by Istvan Orkeny, and nothing could level up. Or, it might just be that Alek Popov could practice some more (if only for my taste).

I think the author’s strength lies in the rawness and roughness of his subject material. His stories are about:

1) students who win fake scholarships to go to the States, only to be screwed up and made to live in a nasty low-life American neighborhood, where they get assimilated and learn to enjoy fucking fat women, cursing, slobbing around and getting obese.

2) self-enamored poets who expect some heavenly recognition for their work, only to realize that their poetry serves only to be read to pigs because they seem to enjoy it.

3) astronauts in space who run out of food and have to cut out their body parts to eat and survive.

That’s what I mean when I say raw and rough.

In some places Mr. Popov’s descriptions are interesting, unusually phrased and attention-grabbing, and so are his ideas. However, the actual realization of these ideas is marred by unconvincing dialogues, characters that hide what motivates them, and endings that usually tell more than they should, explaining the obvious, or explaining something that the readers should be left with to wonder about.

I’d like to end on a positive note, so I’ll paraphrase Master Yoda: I sense potential in this one. 🙂

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