Reading ‘Future Gone’ felt like running my fingers over the epitaphs in a cemetery of weathered headstones. I could tell there had been beautiful inscriptions chiselled away with great care and love. Yet I couldn’t help wondering if the rain washed words could have helped me understand the poetry a little better.
I’m not sure if this problem is due to relying on a prosaic translator or if the Bulgarian wrote this version himself using English as his second language. It felt clunky and misshapen quite a lot of the time. Though persevering through the first half dozen stories I found something wonderful began to happen.
It was as though the grains from the tombstones began forming the missing words in the whorls of my fingertips. I understood the poetry and the beauty. If only this could have been the initial impact then I would have enjoyed this short book so much more. Because there is a lot to like here.
These dystopian tales are populated with ghosts and memories that look back across their shoulders at an unforgiving world. They raise existential questions set in the deftly created nihilistic landscapes of Tomov’s mind.
But these parables are not all tales of melancholy. Hope runs through them, illuminating the despondency like a light at the end of a dark tunnel. Tomov writes about purification too, the rain that decontaminates the verminous souls of murders and thieves. He introduces us to ghosts that return for redemption and caution. Even to warn their younger, living selves of mistakes that lay waiting in their own life choices.
It often seems as if nobody in these stories is ever really dead. They are players acting against changing scenery, fire curtains painted with the landscapes of their real life horrors. Tomov also weaves the stories with layered symbolism, religious iconography and political history to add to the mystique.
Alexandar Tomov has a unique voice and a lot of deep ideas he likes to explore. The stories contained in ‘Future Gone’ are an indication to me that the author could write something of real significance in the future. For now he’s created a book of allegories and folktales that work most of the time. However some do feel too contrived rather than being real metaphysical examinations.
Because of those faults and also those merits I wouldn’t claim these stories are easy to read; either in their style or their messages. I would say they are worth reading though.
At only 54 pages long these 23 stories won’t take up too much of your time, but they may take a lot of space in your mind. Tomov’s ghosts still walkabout my thoughts after reading. I wonder if you’re ready for a metaphysical haunting too?