Review Blog

Jul 17 2018

Antidote to a curse by James Cristina

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Transit Lounge, 2018. ISBN 9781925760033
(Age: Adult) Following a sexual encounter Silvio Portelli finds himself increasingly drawn to the Bosnian immigrant Zlatko, whilst waiting to learn the results of his test for HIV. Portelli wants to write, and the mystery of Zlatko's life may be his story. Chapters of his Melbourne cafe meetings with Zlatko are interwoven with dream passages that seem to predict the unravelling story of what happened in Bosnia Herzegovina.
The characters take hold of the author and he follows where they lead. The novel itself is a reflection on the art of writing - Portelli tells Zlatko that he has no plot outline, he does not know where the story will go; but his dreams take hold of him and bring it together. The reader has to trust and follow along too. It is nevertheless a well crafted novel.
It makes for an interesting, at times challenging, read - I felt I needed to know more of the history of the Bosnian war. Some relevant works are acknowledged at the end of the novel and could make for further reading for those who are interested.
Helen Eddy

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