Book Review - "Steps Through The Mist" by Zoran Zivkovic

“Steps Through The Mist” is a delightful, and thought-provoking novel by the Serbian author Zoran Zivkovic. True to his style, the novel raises many questions than it answers,

The novel is subtitled “A Mosaic Novel”, and Zivkovic does weave a mosaic-like narrative. The stories form an intimate bond, while retaining their independent place in the scheme of things. Only when you have read the entire novel does the gestalt emerge - a well disguised mosaic that comes alive as the last piece is put in its place.

The novel starts with the chapter titled “Disorder in the Head,” a prologue of sorts for the successive chapters/stories. We are introduced to Miss Emily, a draconian teacher at a girls boarding school. Her stark character is established through little details that reveal her obsession for order and organization. The story begins with a deceptively simple plot -- Miss Emily evaluating the dreams of the class and identifying a trio of “bogus” submissions, dreams that are too fantastical to be true.

But hidden in the dreams are stories, tales of fate and chance interwoven with mystery and pathos. Hole in the wall, a dream-story of a girl in whose hands lies the ability to manipulate the multiverse, thread by thread. Geese in the Mist, a gentle awakening of the wings that make us want to fly, to dare to dream and then chase it. Line on the Palm, a tragic story of a man whose life was cut short, figuratively and then literally, by the lines on his palms. And lastly, Alarm clock on the night table, in which Miss Emily herself makes a special appearance as the protagonist.

The novel, as the author says himself, is about Fate, about missed chances and newfound opportunities. Of the cold blooded disposition of Death, to the gay abandon of Life.

As the novel glides from one dream to the next connected dream, we realize that the story is not just about dreams or fateful connections. A much darker (depending on how you look at it) subplot runs through the entire novel, focussing on a much drearier topic than idle dreams - Death. Zivkovic seems to suggest that death is also a dream (or waking up from a lifetime of dreaming?). Fate-Death-Life seem to be three forces that work as One. Death acts as the cause de transformation, turning animate into inanimate, and then something beyond. It need not be the end of life, it could also be the end of life-as-we-know-it, a process of rebirth that needs but the unfurling of wings, and flight into the heart of the Mist


Rating:

4.5 out of 5.0
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