Where to begin in writing about The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz? It is a beautiful and amazing book, filled with joy and sorrow, mystery and wonder. It is poetry disguised as prose. It is imagination that changes the everyday into something more.
The book is composed of stories told by a boy about his family and life. The central character in the boy’s life is his father, a merchant who sells fabric that, in the story of “The Night of the Great Season,” turns into a natural landscape as shoppers call for, unroll, and drape fabric on themselves and around the shop.
The father, we are given to believe, is also not quite sane. He disappears for days in some parts of the house, and no one misses him until he turns up looking smaller, and then they all realize he’s been gone.
But oh, how I love this father character who discourses on the genesis and rights of tailors’ dummies and raises exotic birds in the attic. Everyone thinks he is daft, but the boy later comes to realize something else:
Magic and poetry fill this book. And always, there is the father who is engaged in an argument with God:
This argument might have something to do with creative will:
As the father’s curiosity and experiments and ideas get wilder and wilder, the family reaches a point when they can’t take it any longer:
One of the many things I loved so much about this book is the fantastic descriptions and events that suddenly take flight from mundane reality. One of my favorites of these is in the story “The Gale,” where the wind, as it gathers up its forces and fury, is partly described thus:
Brilliant writing, this. You will be guaranteed to find nothing even vaguely approximating a cliche in this book.