Cynicism Management is an English language novel by a Slovenian author and musician. Its tone is, of course, cynical.
A colorful group of pseudo-amateur musicians converge in a spy-tinged romp through modern Slovenia. On the outskirts of these absurdly amusing characters are contracted corporate spies, who treat the affair more like a vacation than a mission.
The culture clash between American and Eastern European lifestyle is evident. One can only assume the author is spoofing American corporations in many scenes, though the same treatment could be applied to Asian conglomerates, or any all-encompassing post-war Consumerist brand.
“So no severance package for us?”
“Only if it’s severance of our packages…”
With incredibly witty dialogue the personas on the page spring to life. Not to mention, the author has a keen eye toward detail and elegantly introduces punchlines you won’t see coming. The style flows smoothly and is far more sophisticated than a passing glance might reveal. The book can be a bit long-winded at times, but the sharp satire and irreverent characters do not get old. Except for the fact that some of them are old, as in, they are aging rockers, and like to dream big, even in a small town pub.
No one is immune to Praper’s cattle-prodding satire: women and men, Irish or Middle Eastern, child or terrorist. Each possesses folly and charm, weakness and strength. In short, the characters are well-rounded, easy to follow, and endlessly entertaining.
As the author warns on page 1, it is meant as a stark parable. It is the polar opposite of politically correct, and if you turn off your trigger warnings, it results in a fabulous good time.
This is a well-written, unreserved, but controlled, nostalgic labor of love. Much thought and deliberate care went into crafting the characters, descriptions, dialogue and pacing.
I’ve not visited Slovenia yet, though I have been in the same Slavic neighborhood. Therefore, I was not as surprised by some of the behavior and culture on display as many Americans might be.
I enjoyed similar rock-related anecdotes throughout my childhood, since my father fit into the category of “aging rocker,” for some years.
Praper’s casual, readable style is infectious. The comedy is quick and furious. One might say unrelenting. It is an aggressive display of verbal wit well-versed in personal, daily tragedies and the Rabelaisian aspects of everyday existence.
Completely convincing character introductions, the ravings of conspiracy theorists, and a Wayne’s World type atmosphere are combined with a writing ability comparable to Aleksandar Hemon’s.
What are the root causes of cynicism? For some it is a sadness too deep to confront directly. Beneath the humor is also deep pathos, the struggles of a downtrodden people, yet concealing personal baggage and hard knocks like champs, putting on a smile and playing their heart out.