From the opening beats and dance to the sounds of the pavane in the womb, up to the symbolically charged death in Venice and rebirth in Istria, Crystal Cardinal is a true Künstlerroman. Brimming with stunning images, with a pinch of much-needed fantasy while still deeply anchored in real events, the novel is a display of the images of Zagreb from the fifties and the sixties. The author evokes the dark apartment of the devout aunt, packed with saints’ images, joys in the priest’s lap, fears in the home for children, shining halls of the artist’s academy and train station toilets in Cologne, misunderstood moves and successful art projects. Juicy and lively, with unforgettable characters, filled with moments of light and dark, Crystal Cardinal is a quest for paradise on Earth, for the fulfilment through art, for happiness and love. Mercilessly, unconditionally and completely open-heartedly, Damir Zlatar Frey shows us how art is born and internalized, overwhelming and rescuing us.
Writing without restraints about the most beautiful and the most shocking of things, in the manner of the best theatre performance, Frey brings us laughter and joy, tears and fear. Crystal Cardinal is the portrait of the artist and his continuous growth, his struggle with the system and eternal surrendering to the child within. Painfully honest, abundant in autobiographical elements, this novel by theatre director, dancer and choreographer Damir Zlatar Frey is one of those texts which cut deeply into the reader’s mind.
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