I first read the short stories book that included “The Mendebil” and “The Architect” when I was 14. Up until then I only read the classics. In my mind, nothing could have been better than Huxley, Steinbeck or Cezar Petrescu (my favorite Romanian author growing up).
Reading those short stories changed my teenage views on how literature should impact your life. I always had a love-hate relationship with Cartarescu. There are times when his books prove me that he is a truly gifted writer and there are times when I think he is an overrated second-hand writer, only aiming to impress and shock his public by the topics of his books and not by the story itself.
The stories that got me into liking Mircea Cartarescu
However, the two stories I’m going to tell you about today are two of my favorite. After reading “The Mendebil” I had a blank stare for about fifteen minutes. The story is about a group of kids in communist Bucharest, and their self-proclaimed leader (The Mendebil), a weird kid who had a strange power over the whole group.
The second story, “The Architect” follows the evolution of music, from it’s beginnings to what it could become: a means of communication with other living things. That evolution is followed from the point of view of a man, architect by trade, who becomes obsessed with car horns. He soon installs a myriad of different horns in his car and starts making music. First, simple sounds, but they grew more and more complex until The Architect becomes a world phenomenon.
In conclusion, this Reading Badger’s opinion is that, if you do want to give Cartarescu a chance, these short stories are the way to go.