Flying High and Falling Low: The Longevity of the Happiness of Love
Book Review: Flight by Vladimir Arsenijevic (published by Algoritam, Zagreb)
I have long been awaiting that chance to grab hold of the last novel by Vladimir Arsenijevic, and that abstractly-defined time of waiting seemed to go on for so long that it much resembled the anxious wait that one feels when eager for the latest episode of a favorite television series to be on the air. When I finally closed the last page of the book, I laid it down with a great big smile on my face.
If the themes of Arsenijevic’s earlier novels and other works (such as In the Hold, Išmail and Predator) had predominantly been placed in close connection with either the author himself or the zeitgeist,Flight is a novel which represents a clear departure from everything else he has been writing to date requiring, moreover, a serious diachronic research on his part, in order to prepare and complete it.
The story takes place in the then-Kingdom of Yugoslavia, in the period between the two world wars or, more precisely, between 1932 and 1937, in what was then known as Beckerek or Petrovgrad, and is today the modern town of Zrenjanin in Serbia, with occasional ventures to Belgrade, Sarajevo, Mostar and Novi Sad. The narrative of the novel revolves in a centripetal fashion around the main event (as described in the chapter titled “Numbakulas”), i.e., the fatal crash of air force pilot Pavle Andrejevic, during one of his sorties in the service of the then-Royal Yugoslav Air Force.