This short story review has been imported from my now-defunct review website. I will progressively import the remaining and available reviews throughout the coming months, all of which can be found here.
Boys Don’t Cry tells the story of three drunk young women on a train to a friend’s hometown and, interspersed throughout, the recollections of one of the women, who is anxious about the upcoming meeting because she has, for a while, fallen a little bit in love with the friend. The story is sweetly and sadly sexual, and much of that comes from the fact that the characters are all women.
The parallel stories work well together. Simić uses dream-like, or at the very least, drunk-like, language that drifts from the train trip to the narrator’s memories, and back again. They merge at the end, but retain their almost ephemeral qualities.
The narrator is nameless, and so is her target of affection. The other friends have names, and speak often, and are given concrete details to flesh out their personalities. But the hopeful lover has little but her eyes and observations, and the one she loves has the soft, little details of a life which are endearing mostly only to those who feel strongly for her.
Before she goes to sleep she puts eyedrops in her eyes, nosedrops in her nose, moisturiser on her skin which is so soft it is liquid, and rubs anti-bacterial cream into her face, cleaning herself into a temple, a maternity ward. She slips under the covers, her body loose in her pyjamas. Then she shuts off her roommate’s alarm clock and disappears.
These are the noticings of a lover, or someone who wishes they were. Who else would take the time to so luxuriously observe another person? The story continues in much the same manner, with, on the one hand, the narrator, while traveling on the train with her friends, noting that:
My friends are as crazy as I am, but only because the beer is on me.
“What a fucked-up love story,” echoes Kiti, cradling her beer can, her lips dancing around the opening, following the rhythm of the rocking train.
“Romeo and Juliet they never felt this way I bet…” I sing, slowly sewing a smile onto my face.
“It’s just that our little Juliet doesn’t seem to know it yet.” Janja takes another long sip and sinks back into her seat.
And then the story shifts to this,
We walk down the street towards the disco, two by two – she and Janja leading the way. She – an apparition in her blazing white nightgown which she’s wearing over her shirt and trousers. This is the corner where she had her first kiss, this is the wall she jumped off and broke her arm trying to show her boyfriend, the love of her life, the tattoo between her shoulder blades, that she could fly with an umbrella, a laMary Poppins.
Simić handles the transitions well. We believe both the excitement of the drunk girls on the train, and the sweet and gentle affection of the narrator for the friend. Tension exists because the friend, we suspect, isn’t quite able to commit to the narrator. Affection is returned, and the narrator’s physical advances are certainly encouraged – but only to a certain point, and then rejection occurs. Of course, and this is the point of the story, really – the ‘certain point’ keeps moving forward, and it seems that the narrator’s feelings will in fact be reciprocated. But the tension is melancholy, rather than intense, thanks to the vague, dream-like nature of the friend. She is portrayed as sweet and sensitive, almost impossibly so, and one suspects that, should she ever truly be captured, then she would fade away and disperse, the way smoke does when you clench your fist around it. The interest she shows seems, to the narrator, at times to be a disinterested type of interest, the sort of interest you show when you want someone to be close, but not necessarily the person who is close.
Boys Don’t Cry by Mima Simić is a nicely sweet, and nicely crude story that alternates well between love and lust. The friends, Janja and Kiti, function well as a counterpoint to the narrator, and the narrator’s love is believable and encouraging. You want her to succeed, but you also enjoy the drunken antics of her and her friends. A strong story, well told.
|Title||Boys Don’t Cry|
|Publisher||Blesok – No. 70|
About the Author
Mima Simić was born in Zadar, Croatia, in 1976.
Please visit the Short Story Reviews page to see all of the available reviews.