A
Romantic Journey

Examining Turkish novel, this book
also deals with examples of novels from around the world. This literary journey,
starting with unforgettable classics of Turkish novel such as Yaban (The Wild),
Mai ve Siyah (Blue and Black), extends to contemporary Turkish writers like
Elif Safak and Yasar Kemal. In World Literature, the book studies many
important novelists from Dostoyevsky to Aitmatov, Camus to Calvino. Also
included are thoughts (analytic questions) about the “genre” itself.
The writer describes his book on
the art of novel as;
“Essays thinking on novels.”
 
 
 
Gümüþsuyu
Daisies

Gümüþsuyu
Daisies is a play in a novel. Transformation of a play into
a novel, persistence of the play within the novel… Meeting of theatre and
novel…
Playwright Atilla Birkiye is
determined not to reveal his one actor play, until he finds a suitable actress.
Finally he meets Selma. Selma is perfectly cut out for the part. To the point
that she feels the same anguish the character does, right in her soul. Selma’s
accepting of the part becomes the birth of GümüþsuyuDaisies,
Daisies, and the beginning of a new love. On the other hand, when novelist
Kemal, abandoned by her lover, meets Atilla, he eludes his world of despair and
enters the colourful world of GümüþsuyuDaisies
Daisies. But the ghost of Hamlet roams within the novel.
While the pains of staging a play
mix up with the pains of love, the writer questions modernism at the
background. Parallel stories set up from different perspectives, sometimes go
of at a tangent and sometimes intersect. With its innovative style and
experimental setup, Gümüþsuyu Daisiesis the adaptation of a play into a novel, despite the usual.
 
 
From Gümüþsuyu Daisies
You make love till the morning the
night before, you get extraordinary pleasures, and she says she feels the same,
her screams break through the walls, your ego peaks. You come home the night
after only to see the woman in front of you, moaning with pleasure at night,
saying I am leaving! Loads of trifling reasoning, all empty excuses… You force
her; you shift into irrelevant subjects, just like in any other meaningless
argument. She says, I had said that one should have other women in his life;
and I had also said, he should at least flirt innocently. She says that there
is no innocent flirt for her. She says that I am playing footsie with everyone;
if someone leaves an open door, I would go sleep with her immediately, jump
into a relationship. She left all of a sudden, saying I am leaving. Moreover I
had never cheated on her. I had innocent flirts with only two women, years ago.
I told her back then; she was upset, but it was not a big deal.
Is Hamlet wrong in calling Ophelia
a whore? He tells her to go to a monastery; experts say he humiliates her,
compares her to a whore. Maybe Hamlet is right, however innocent the girl might
be; he is mad at her because she was tricked by her father, but actually it is
his mother that he is really mad at; in fact he is addressing his mother in
Ophelia’s person. Their relation is ambiguous anyway. For some, Hamlet really
loves Ophelia, some believe that he has slept with her, and others say the
opposite. Hamlet, the God of Indecision! That’s the truth. I feel like Hamlet,
not because my lover deserted me, Hamlet was betrayed too, by his mother, I
also feel like him when it comes to writing or not writing.
Metin Gerçek is my friend; he says
go south all the time, you’d write better there. But I can’t decide whether I
should carry on writing! I can’t write at all lately, my will to write, my
energy, my enthusiasm, all gone. Not even a bit left! That means now my thought
of not writing itself, determines my decision, as if it is a deliberate
decision, just like Hamlet’s inability to act. The worst, in fact, is not being
able to make a decision, as they always say, even the worst decision is better
then indecision, that is the kind of state I am in.
I loved her. I have always loved
her. She gave loads of reasons when leaving; reasons to her, were for me made
up, superficial excuses! At first, I did enjoy the freedom separation brought,
to be frank. But later, it turned out that the reality was not like that, both
for my spiritual truth and for her famous reasons!
It was not even ten, fifteen days
since she left the house that I saw her with a man, her lover; no matter how
hard she denied, it was obvious that she left me for her lover. So she was
cheating on me. Then I felt like Hamlet. For Hamlet, his father’s murder aside,
her mother marrying his uncle is the betrayal; he perceives himself as the one
who is betrayed, more than his father. Is there something Freudian about Hamlet?
If I feel like Hamlet, who will I kill; or for whom I will be indecisive to
kill or not to kill.
 
 
 
Love
Pursuing Suicide
Atilla Birkiye’s fifth novel Love Pursuing Suicide is an “Istiklal
Street night” novel, setup in present day, advancing with coincidents.
Love
Pursuing Suicide, in addition to being an implicit questioning of
what an intellectual is, in a sense traces the trail of an original and
profoundly wise man of culture/literature of the Ottoman period, Beþir Fuad who
was “erased from people’s memory” because of his “deliberate” suicide, along
with that of the “impossible love story” Eylül,
an exceptional work of art from the history of Turkish novel.
From Love Pursuing Sucide
I was aware, she could hardly
contain herself. She was preoccupied with Fuat. Sitting with her was so
pleasant. When she lifted her head and looked at me behind a curtain of her
hair, I wanted the time to stop, if not then to pass slowly. Her eyes said,
let’s go. As a matter of fact I was beginning to worry about my old pal. He
would not commit suicide easily, but nothing was certain when it came to him.
He could even disappear for days,
months just to make it look like suicide. It was Fuat, he could do such things,
and then he would tease his friends saying I tested you to see what you would
do. Maybe he would do it. I was not seeing him for years. Although I have been
hearing of him, god knows what had changed in his personality.
“Are you in love with him?”
She lingered in my eyes for a
second. Smiled.
“I was... Now, I don’t really know. Although I am hurt now, there is
still love in me for him. I don’t know why.”
I said nothing.
“I have had enough of him lately.”
“How long have you two been
together?”
“Not too long, who knows maybe it
is long. I think it’s hardly been a year.”
“How did you meet?”
“You won’t believe it but Zeynep
introduced us.”
I was surprised. We both went
silent. We both had sips from our drinks. I had another sip, then another… When
I realised that an involuntary, queer smile appeared on my face and she began
to read into that smile, I spoke.
“I did not know that they met at
all. It was never mentioned. Actually I haven’t mentioned him too.”
“Actually Zeynep introduced us a
year, a year and a half ago. They had been together for a while.”
She answered without waiting for
my question. She felt that I was going to ask. She knew by all means, about my
passion, my love for Zeynep; which did not, which could not come true.
 
A
Shooting Star

A novel, full of coincidences,
about a family which runs from 1870’s to present day. Disintegration,
especially through and following the World War I, historical parallelisms of
the tragic events that members of a big family spread to Trabzon and Batumi,
two sister cities founded on the shores of Black Sea in antiquity undergo; a
struggle of survival of a widow, along with her mother and five kids, in a land
where history has changed and which has witnessed a new revolution. Meanwhile,
weaving of present day relationships with past time sensibilities, and at times
the result surfacing from the depths of the novel… All this reaching the
present, through the “stories told” that many of us witness in our lives,
histories…
Just like most of his other texts,
the writer’s revelation of political and sociological analysis at the depth of
this text or between its lines, by using coincidences of daily life.
 
 
From A Shooting Star
Grandma was right on her
intuitions; she was not wrong, her fears had come true. The aide had already
tipped off the officials, informing on the family which had fed him for years,
a family of two women without their husbands and five children, one a young
girl, the other an infant.
Mustafa Suphi, his wife and
thirteen friends from the party were touchingly going down in history as
tragically losing their lives in the rough waves of Black Sea. Tragicomically
Ankara had informed the Soviets about the event as a shipwreck!
“I don’t have a son to send to
such affairs. Give my regards to Mr. Yahya,” he said in an austere and
determined way. The men left with great respect, nodding a salute to the
headman; the last one quietly shut the iron door.
In an instant, say an instant of
courage, in that instant that would determine the lives, fates of so many
people, a young woman in a black head scarf approached the car and dropped a
piece of paper on the lap of the Pasha, who was majestically waving at the
people. She had planned this ahead; had written those words on the paper
beforehand.
It was said that there were two
wishes of the women on that piece of paper. The first, most immediate one was
her children’s schooling problem; the second, she could not manage to get a
surname. Pasha ordered his company to immediately address, in fact immediately
solve the women’s problems. He had requested, but no doubt this was an order.
The women was found, praised for
the courage she had shown; for this was what the Pasha had told to those around
him at the time being. They asked her to tell her problems; and then resolved
those issues.
Emine had only made a request from
the Pasha, showing the courage, the civility to demand as a modern citizen;
probably this behaviour was the number one cause for the solution of her
problems.
Aunt Mecbure’s adventures were
well known. Especially those of her husband Captain Kazim. Mr. Kazim, or Uncle
Kazim as some call him, was not a guy to take lightly; during the First World
War, while at the Eastern Front, he was the only man that stood up to Kazým
Karabekir Pasha, that imposing corps commander. In those days of blood chilling
cold, and Uncle Kazým always had an ailment of his lungs, in those days when it
was obvious that the war was lost, yet the fight went on, no matter why, Kazým
Pasha had called Captain Kazým to his tent. It was as clear as the day; Pasha
was going to shoot Kazým.
In all the narrations, especially
those by Aunt Mecbure, who would always recall her husband with a smile on her
face, this was what was told. Everyone knew of this call; Kazým’s officer
friends looked at his face with a look that almost said, “May god have mercy on
your soul.” Uncle Kazým had walked into the tent and saluted his commander.
Kazým Pasha had roared and yelled in the tent, and Uncle Kazým had kept quiet, when
the Pasha said get out, Uncle Kazým saluted him and walked out the tent, with
his hand on his gun; upon seeing this when Kazým Pasha smiled and asked why, it
was accounted that Uncle Kazým said, if you are called Kazým Karabekir, I am
called Kazým the Mad.
 
 
LOVE TRILOGY 

 
The
Last Mean
A seemingly “groundless” state of doubt/fear that a writer,
who lost all sources of inspiration in the nightmarish climate of the military
coup of 12 September 1980, has fallen into and his depressions… His passionate
and in a way “morbid” love for Selma, his lover whom he can hardly believe is
actually together with him.
 
From
Left to Right
Fallen apart with his lover Selma, the writer’s adventure to
write again… Illusion and reality, coincidences, doubt, platonic love, ancient
philosophical questions like “does it exist, does it not exist”… Greta Garbo
and a retired bureaucrat in love with her, views from Istanbul of the 60’s,
media features from the present, Cindy Crawford etc.
 
How
to Solve a Love Puzzle
Men-women relations evolving
around Selma and the writer… Sorrowful solitudes, unexpected separations… The
truth that happiness, gliding away from the tips of our fingers, can actually
be seized by coincidences… Love’s flow in its own bed…
 
From The Last Mean
After
twisting and turning for hours in his bed, defeated by silence he had
surrendered to sleep. He did not know how long that comforting environment he
sought for such a long time had lasted; but with the loud knock on his door, he
jumped out of the bed. He was up, there was a knock on his door, for a while he
stood there not moving at all, without making any assumptions he stumbled to
the door. Objects did not seem to be in their places; he was bumping into
furniture, could not think of anything; but was magnetically drawn to the
noises at the door, leaving his body to the forces of the magnet, he was moving
towards the door. Finally, they had arrived. For years, months, days and nights
he had been awaiting them and now his door was being kicked. Time and space was
out of the ordinary. He could not perceive his environment, could not even hear
the hollering of the gang behind the door, but with empty stares, like a robot
remotely controlled was just walking towards the door.
The second
he opened the door, a hard fist hammered on his face. He was knocked down.
Suddenly the house was filled with cops. They were holding radios and automatic
guns. Already, they were turning the rooms upside down. One grabbed and lifted
him from the neck. The guy was yelling a mouthful, but he could not hear a
thing. Others flocked around his books, tearing some, throwing some on the
floors and putting others in a sugar sack. He was amazed at not hearing a word
during such a long lasting commotion, while his body was swaying back and
forth, left and right, in synch with the movements of the hand of the guy that
caught him by the neck.
Something
was also odd about his field of vision. It was as if he was in a vacuum. He
could barely see the furniture and objects surrounding him. Before he had a
chance to realise what was going on, the guy that did not let go of his neck
and kept yelling, hurled him to the ground, he fell flat on his face. Then,
they started kicking him. He felt the kicks all around his body, as the kicks
increased he was shrivelling up like a roly poly. As he shrivelled up kicks
were becoming fiercer, but he did not feel the pain.
It was as
though they understood it. Now they were kicking and dragging him outside the
door, to the landing. Then they toppled him down the stairs.
As soon as
he realised what was going on, to protect his head he wrapped his arms around
it. For the time being, this was the most precious thing he had. Initially the
kicks came in intervals and caused his body to fall down the stairs. Then they became
sporadic, with his body somehow controlling the descent. He was going down the
stairs one by one, while the kicks, though infrequent continued; he still
didn’t feel the pain. His only worry was hurting his head. At the floors he
went by rolling on the floor, he heard the doorbells ringing. He could only
hear the bells. Stairway lights were on. It was a strange, yellow light. Kicks
went sparse and then stopped. Some time later, he could not see the light any
longer. Rolling in the dark, accompanied by the bells, he now felt dampness on
his back. This must be blood, he thought; dampness was spreading all around his
body.
Accompanied
by the bells, with his body wet all over he was falling towards a dark void.
 
 
From Left To Right
He should
use the word lock-out too. He checked it out. Presently, there was no suitable
spot to use it. But maybe later, if it worked out, he might use it. He wrote
this word beside the diagram: Lock-out. Underneath the second G in the first
line, the G of Garbo he immediately added: General.
Since the
word had seven letters, three boxes remained empty. For a second he thought of
preparing a puzzle with ten lines to seven columns, but the idea was ridiculous
and pointless. He wanted to create a well prepared puzzle, not one that was
impossible to solve. Instantly, he put a cross under the L.
His eyes
started to scan the magical word on the first line. In fact, he did this often;
as soon as he placed a new word, he was spelling out this first line, what was
written on it. Actually he was not reading the word; but seeing images of Greta
Garbo that persists in his memory. The face of that goddess was almost coming
to life on the surface of the puzzle.
Under the
B, upon faintly hearing his son, eager to make up for his mistake, saying “when
will you write your new book”, he wrote Bookbinder. He had told his son “Don’t
know”, but he was splendidly cheerful. Bookbinder was a ten letter word and it
filled a column without any crosses.
It was his
wife calling this time. The film was starting, wasn’t he coming? The man lifted
his head to look at his wife, but without saying anything he wrote Television
by the diagram of the puzzle. Then, without lifting his head from the paper in
front of him, he called “I’ll be there in a minute” to his wife sitting across
the room, in front of the TV. He took another look at his puzzle. He could
think of nothing, but only see that mysterious woman. That perfect face, that
divine face…
“Come on,
you like Greta Garbo,” yelled his wife, this time. He tidied up the papers,
hoping that he would go back to work after the film. Generally, after watching
a film he would feel very sleepy, even fall a sleep before some of them ended;
but he would never fall a sleep during a Garbo film, he put the pen down on the
papers.
 
From How To Solve A Love Puzzle
Who would
be at the party; if there was a stranger, things were obvious. Some guys were
to corner her all night. Usual numbers, propositions to meet again, dinner
invitations; handicaps of attending the party alone… In such situations she
would surround herself with high walls or get drunk and withdraw to a corner;
or run wild once the men had left. When the blokes were around she would hardly
ever let loose. She would restrain, withhold herself.
Maybe
there wouldn’t be any strangers; it was just a groundless worry. Maybe she was
exaggerating; she should go and enjoy the party. And not bother with the guys
picking on her; in fact she wasn’t sure that there would be any. Who knows,
maybe she would meet someone nice, someone really refined and considerate.
Or,
shouldn’t she go? She could not offend Selma; besides the writer was turning
45. Plus being with her friends, chatting to them, discussing a variety of
issues, talking politics, literature and art was going to make her feel good.
It was going to relieve the fatigue of the whole week. Though her life was
filled with news, the pleasure of peaceful conversation with her friends was
something else.
She should
wear one of the dresses she newly bought. It was not a décolleté. What was a
décolleté for any way? Maybe it would draw men’s attention, but unless she had
the will, what difference would it make if her dress was a low-cut?
She lit
another cigarette. She should put on a little make-up before leaving the
newspaper. A thin line on the eyes, little bit of shade on the cheeks, a little
lipstick would do it. She felt as if she was being presented to someone. No, no
she wasn’t presenting herself. Maybe subconsciously she wanted to present
herself to someone. Who would not like to look beautiful? No matter what the
underlining motivations were, who would not enjoy a bombardment of compliments?
She should
go to the party earlier. Maybe she would help out. Undoubtedly, everything
would already be prepared, but she still wanted to see Selma and talk to her,
before the crowd came in. For years Selma had her under her wings; Selma meant
a whole lot to her. For years she had supported, watched for her. When she was
a rookie reporter, Selma had not hesitated to lend a helping hand.
She would
not exchange Selma’s friendship to the world. She would never offend, hurt
Selma; guard her like she was the most precious thing on earth. Selma was her
best friend, companion, and confidant.
Swiftly
she was ready and out on the street. She wouldn’t really like to go to the
paper dressed up like this. Some blokes were to drown her in compliments; she
would coldly and politely thank them, blush, and awfully regret ever wearing
it. Despite working with this wolf pack for years, she never got accustomed to
their vulgarity.
 
 
People Who Failed in Love in Ýstanbul 

 The novel is set in an Ýstanbul
overshadowed by the then military dictatorship.  The writer (narrator), forbidden to write novels, earns his
living by giving private lessons. The subject he teaches is love! His students
are four women and two men of different ages - all abysmal failures in love!
The lessons are conducted in different parts of Ýstanbul, each of which holds a
special significance for the writer. Through the writer’s eyes, we get a
nostalgic view of Istanbul, both ancient and modern. However, the focus is
brought sharply to bear on the characters, especially our narrator’s
relationship with the women. The different psychological moods of love come
under the microscope, as does the question of “what will happen next?” which
the novelist avoids answering, on a personal as well as a political level.
 
 
 Meeting Places for Lovers in Ýstanbul 
 

 In this fascinating book - as the
title suggests - the writer proposes 34 trysting places for lovers and would-be
lovers. Some of the places are well known, others hidden away in the less
frequented nooks and crannies of Istanbul. Think of it as a kind of romantic
sightseeing tour of the city. The route - a map of which is thoughtfully
provided at the back of the book - takes us from Taksim, winding its way around
the districts of Ýstanbul and finally drops us right back where we started
from, at  Taksim. Many of the
places visited are illustrated by photographs, others sadly no longer exist;
although once upon a time they were very popular. Autobiographical musings
woven into the text give us a vivid impression of the places themselves and the
associations and significance they hold for the author. At the end of the book
- and completely unrelated to the rest of the work - Birkiye
makes ingenious use of the last page to attach a personal letter to a woman
reader in answer to a question she had asked about his depiction of the
Bosporus Strait in a previous novel – one assumes that he had lost her address! 
 
Expected Revolution in Ýstanbul
Prose  
Atilla Birkiye, this time looking at Istanbul from very different view. With its formal specifications challanging “classical prose” where imaginary and the reality is inextricably interwined, he has been forming a lyrical and intense autobiographical narrative... 
Expected Revolution in Istanbul is author's only book where the word of love is not mentioned. The Love, along with 
 
an individual level, has been taking its place in the depthness of the text as a greater universal concept. On the other side, 
the unuttered word of “love” has been hidden among the layers of other words. Also, the section titles and the number of phrases taking place in the
narrition etc contain unresolved meanings. After all, “...although I do not
believe in enigma, this narrative carries the secret of the numbers,” author
says...
 
 
 

He tells his prose and the happy-sad reflections of
the daily events with mythological, historical, political references, and
with  a style centered around “I” woven
with methapor and imagery.
 
 
 
Poetry Seeks its Twin
Essay


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