Waiting for the Dog to Sleep
Jerzy Ficowski. Twisted Spoon Press, $14.5 (188pp) ISBN 978-80-86264-24-0
In this collection of 28 short, lyrical prose pieces, Ficowski, a Polish poet and scholar who participated in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, blends hallucination, reminiscence and reverie in a way that suggests but never spells out the horrors and deprivations of life in Poland during and after WWII. An ambiguous first person narrator describes the remains of ghost-filled shtetls seen from passing trains, an aborted escape from a prison camp and a forest that may or may not only exist in the narrator's imagination. Many pieces read like dream journals, or ""recollections confused with fantasy,"" unraveling from reality in a style recalling the work of Borges and Calvino, and the dark, surrealist fables of Bruno Schulz, the subject of Ficowski's best known nonfiction work, Regions of the Great Heresy. But the collection contains pieces, such as the profound ""Intermission,"" about a brief, terrifying lull during the Warsaw Uprising, that clearly touch on his own experience of war and loss. First published in Poland in 1970, this expressive collection illustrates how a suffering nation can find refuge in dreams, even if those dreams are haunted by a reality the dreamer is trying to escape.
Reviewed on: 01/02/2006