THE PAPER DEVILS
Profil International, 2011, 374 pages
• 20-pages excerpt available in English
A dynamic plot, idiosyncratic characters and a book with a completely different feel to it, give us the right to assume that the Coen brothers’ cinematic characters have seemingly relocated to the pages of this book.
In explosions of violence and laughter, somewhere in between reality and delusion, invisible scissors are snipping, leaving paper devils behind, characters at times so real that you could even bump into them in the street today, if you were to be so unlucky. Two stories coalesce in The Paper Devils: one, a satire of the everyday life of two writers, and the other, a tragic story of the violence among teenagers. Šamski and Fred were on the very fringe of Zagreb’s literary scene: Šamski believes that his prose should correspond with reality and thus reach a wide audience, while Fred would be happiest if he could live out his entire literary career away from the public’s eye.
Around the time of the tenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre and right after his girlfriend had left him, Šamski started working on a manuscript called Tattoo in which he tried to tell the story of the brutal violence among teenagers from the point of view of two juvenile killers. A sensationalist approach from a part of the American and global media, in the time following the shooting, created requirements for the birth of a dark cult which worshipped Harris and Klebold as heroes. While Šamski staggered between reality and fiction, still not quite understanding what had drawn him to write this story, Fred was experiencing the last thing he ever wanted – literary success. His entire life Fred had wholeheartedly tried to stay in the shelter of anonymity, to go by unnoticed, to survive with only a dozen of readers but then, completely suddenly and unexpectedly, his novel Franzen’s pan found itself in the running for one of the region’s most lucrative literary prizes…