Cold Nights of Childhood
Tezer Özlü
published in 1980
written 24 may 2024

every step this brief novel takes is strangely familiar, caustically attuned to innate feelings of isolation, connection, personal trials—even as its backdrop, in time and in place, can be so foreign to english eyes.

the commentaries of surroundings are pointed narrow, simple and spitting out out only when it needs to with the space it has. Özlü's writing is deeply raw, cutting in perspective changes and their connections, alongside maximal looks at manic life; there isn't a single string left unturned, undisturbed, unwound.

and as this self-insert, near-autobiographical protagonist splits arounds and conflicts with everything in her path out of seeming necessity, to spar with an equally unsettling society surrounding her, the story itself cuts in and out, endearingly so. the occasional pointers to anatolia, the steppe, general pictures painted of her environment and ties to it and the people inhabiting, it's all so lovingly smudged out, a bit too grainy, but a wonderful background for such a nervous and unkempt story. they match much better than that combination leads on.

it simply matches so well with its commentaries on life, how life itself jumps around, in meaning and in subtext. how it can be a little too vague to ascribe feeling to is at times frustrating and at others completely relatable; mentioning dryly relationship details she thinks i already know is the connective tissue that creates such an atmospheric read.

as much as it is filled with deeply affecting, emotionally poignant and sometimes truly harrowing imagery about the mental hospital inhabited, it's still a breezy experience. there's so much poking and prodding you, jerking you to life.

light 4 / 5
created by hand, by nat!

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