Kukorelly, Endre

“As to what is the novel, of course one cannot define it like this, at most you can say what it isn’t, and that will either work or not. As a reader it’s pretty easy to say. If you’re a proper (normal, naïve) reader, you read novels. You get immersed in it, there’s conflict in it, a catch or two, the end will always turn out to be something, either good or bad, someone will die, others will never die, someone will always leave/marry someone, there’ll be a murderer, the Turks will really be routed from Eger. They will be, I can tell you that.” (Kukorelly Endre)

(May 26, 1999)

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this evening
a sobbing man
about my age
between two war
scenes. Since his team
after leading for ninety minutes
was scored on twice in one.
But I don’t think that’s why he was sobbing.

But because,
of something totally different. Later they showed
the players, clever, stupid, middle-stupid, half-clever,
as they lay motionless
face to the grass, or whatever,
that moronically tended lawn,
like the dead. Like cadavers.

One player said that it was
 a horror.
Soccer’s horrible. He used
this word.
then he turned away, to the side,
he too cried. Me, no. I’m not quite sure
what I did in the fairly broad
and comfortable space between wonder

and bewilderment. It was just a game said
 the coach. Called it a game.
Just. A. Game. His face white as a sheet.
It showed on him, why he said it like that. Cause it shows,
as if there’d been a chance, that’s how you see it, as if there’d been,
and if you didn’t win, then it was just playing.
Then you go to bed. If you’ve had enough.
and what’s been painted up, the whole thing comes off,

and so it remains. Really
 dead. You neither answer nor ask,
and you don’t forget the you know, you don’t know what.
And someday you’ll rise up from there,
start something else,
but no difference, no great difference
in suffering. Just the same
it passes, passes just the same.

Translated from the Hungarian by Thomas Cooper