Scrisoare de dragoste

This time, a soft romance novel, Scrisoare de dragoste (Love letter), by Mihail Drumes.

It’s been a long time since my last Mihail Drumes read , or any read by a fellow countryman, and somehow maybe I had a bit more expectations from this inter-war Romanian author.

Love letter is the story of two people, Dinu and Anda, presented through their personal perspective, Dinu’s as a personal diary, and Anda’s as letters written towards her best childhood friend.

We understand their early life positions, Dinu was born in a very poor family , after the first world war, and his sole purpose in life was to obtain something much better for himself, through any means necessary. Losing his father at a very young age, his mother taught him to marry well, into a good and rich family, to solve his problems forever. Driven by ambition, Dinu studies a lot, competes with everyone, and works a lot. He makes a good amount of money during his student years, and works towards his two doctoral diplomas, in philosophy and literature.

Anda had a simple life, being an orphanage child, and adopted by a kind old woman, the director of her school, she is simple, but a girl full of life, enjoying every moment. She was very well raised, as a true ‘mademoiselle’ of the times, and with very strong sense of honor and duty.

They meet in strange circumstances, and their love story begins, they feel attracted to one another, but the rules of the epoch did not allow them to come close very soon.

At some point after a few years they begin to date, after randomly meeting each other again, and the main thing that is attractive to one another is their intelligence, and Anda’s charm and beauty. Dinu is young, foolish, and falls for a trap set by his friend, who claims Anda’s easy way with men. He tries to take advantage of that, even nearly rapes her, but she does not fall for it. Her principles are strong, and even if Dinu proves complete idiocy, she still falls for him and asks him to get married, such that his wishes that she becomes his lover could become true.

Dinu is in a bit of confusion and in conflict, he does not wish to marry her, but only use her for his own pleasure, but if she wants to get married such that this happens, he agrees.

Eventually they marry, and their life is nothing but simple or dull. Dinu is more and more unhappy about their material situation, while Anda enjoys playing so many games and making their life fun. She does not devote to her husband like other wives of the century, but rather plays hard to get and pranks him every time she can.

Even if Dinu has some feelings for Anda, he decides to let her go, in pursuing the young daughter of his employer, Apelevianu, who is a very influencing man in the government. His daughter, Jebs, is an young teenager, who barely finished school, and was kept estranged from society by her father.

Meanwhile, Dinu convinces an old school friend, Relu, to seduce Anda such that she has a good reason to divorce her. Anda however does not wish to cheat on him, and more than that, it’s not in her being to do it. This proves how stupid Dinu is, and how little he knows her. Anda finds out his plan from a really in love Relu, who falls for her trying to seduce her, and confronts Dinu. This leads to their quick and painful divorce.

Anda does not suffer so much, she goes on with her life, planning her scholarships, reading and enjoying what she can from her life, her love for Dinu slowly turning into hate. Relu keeps trying to reach her, and when he proves very nice upon her adoptive mother’s death, she decides to accept to marry him.

Dinu manages to seduce Jebs, again with a lot of lies, and forces her to sleep with him, such that he can force her father to accept him as son-in-law. In a short while they get married, and the author then starts presenting us the phenomenon of the climber who got in a very high position but still unhappy. He realizes that his life with Anda was much more than he thought, and that the lies that he created are too much for him, being always with a woman he did not like, and a position that makes everyone ask so much of him. In the end he is offered a cabinet in the government.

The end scenery reflects a meeting in Italy between the two couples, which ends with a fight. Dinu can’t stand that Anda married his old friend. Jebs can’t stand that Dinu in fact was previously married and still loves Anda. Relu can’t stand that his wife still has feelings for her ex-husband, and Anda can’t stand that Dinu keeps crashing her life over and over again.

Jebs decides to kill herself, and so does Dinu, ending their life with many regrets, feeling that there is nothing more they can do to fix things.

Anda goes on, carrying a child for Relu, finally free of Dinu.

My feeling is that there is no real love in this novel except Jebs’. She is really devoted to Dinu and accepts him with all his faults, loving him for what he is. She decides she cannot live without his love.

Anda is fond of Dinu, but her feelings turn to hate, and never wishes to get back to him.

And for Dinu, Anda has always been an obsession. At some points his thruster obsession is higher, and at some points Anda is stronger. Either way, he is a very obsessed man, only trying to reach his goals, but with little love in his heart. He is a heartless seducer, liar, aggressive and paranoid. His feelings for Anda are all but love. He tries to beat her, rape her, lies to her, treats her like a tramp, and then becomes obsessed with her. Dinu does not know what he really wants, until he decides to die.

Love letter is a novel full of emotion, which is very well transmitted to the reader, and as a negative point I would say that some scenes are a bit forced, and could be worked a bit better. Overall a good teenage read, recommended for romantic dreamers.

Count Zero

In a quick genre change, I read Count Zero, by William Gibson.

After previously read the Neuromancer a few years back, I continued the Sprawl trilogy with Count Zero, which is not really a continuation of Neuromancer, but rather a different story set in the same scenery.

There are three separate threads that are intertwined in the book, and only at the end we find out the connection between them.

Turner, a hired mercenary, is hired by a big multinational, Hosaka, to assist in the defection of Maas biolabs’ (another company) head designer, Mitchell. They assemble a rescue team in the desert, but the operation is a failure, and the design center is destroyed. However Turner escapes with a young girl, Angela, Mitchell’s daughter.

They run away from their chasers to find out that Angela was in fact supposed to escape, having a biochip implanted in her head.

The second thread is about Marly, in Paris, a young girl employed by a very rich man, Josef Virek, to obtain specific art boxes. We find out about Marly’s life, her former lover who is killed meanwhile, and her way to find the source of the boxes.

The third thread is about a young boy, Bobby, nicknamed Count Zero, who experiments with different cyberspace software. He is hired by a group to experiment different software for them, one which nearly kills him.

In the end we find out that Virek wants to obtain the biochip inside Angela’s head, and so does Hosaka and Maas biolabs, and in fact everyone. The group who got Bobby start worshiping Angela as they start some kind of new religion about her attained powers to connect to cyberspace.

Count Zero is a difficult read, mainly because Gibson has a very strong language, with plenty of made up words and acronyms, which may be hard to grasp from the start. Some of them take longer time to understand. The powerful language makes an unique novel atmosphere, that creates it’s particular feeling.

The characters in the book are not very strong, the feeling is that it’s a bit written like a movie script, and easily adaptable to a motion picture. Turner is a hired mercenary, with little conscience problems, knowing exactly what he wants to do, and few scruples.

Angela is a young smart woman, caught in something beyond her grasp, and I have the feeling Gibson could have worked a bit more on her.

Marly is the most complex character, being caught up between a job, a bad relationship, a room mate and her utmost desire to evolve and to be something more than what she already is. Her ideals to be part of art, and to understand the world through art, are the reasons why she accepts Virek’s offer.

Bobby is a kid, who barely understands the world, and is struck from very young age with the problems of life, problems that he can not really handle by himself.

We see a lot of fiction, plenty of imagination, and for the lovers of the genre, Count Zero is an interesting work.