Interfictions Reviews – "A Drop of Raspberry"

“A Drop of Raspberry”
Csilla Kleinheincz
translated from the Hungarian by Noémi Szelényi

This is a style of story I was expecting to make its way into the Interstitial fold (as discussed in the “— House” thread): the inanimate narrator story, ie one which uses an anthropomorphic personification as its main character. I think the proliferation of this style may be an offshoot of the recent “deity as main character in modern setting” trend, following Gaiman, which now is pretty much played out. Most often such stories deal in one way or another with the theme of the human condition evaluated from distance, “I am not what they are, thus I understand better than they do how great and terrible they have it.” The successful inanimate-narrator tales I’ve seen treat with this same theme, but without having to concern themselves with addressing the monstrous, limelight-stealing subjects of myth and belief. Unless they want to. Actually, in that respect, I might almost call it a magic realist tactic.

In “A Drop of Raspberry”, a semi-sentient lake saves a grieving man from suicide by drowning. They strike up a friendship, which wobbles precariously on the edge of forbidden romance and ends bittersweet. Ms. Kleinheincz gives us a real, accessible notion of what it feels like to be a lake, using weird bits of synesthesia to convey that sense of difference, of alienness, but not getting so wrapped up in it as to deprive us of emotional attachment to what is at its heart a subtle, poignant tragedy of star-crossed lovers. The notion of the interstitial comes into play here in the space between humanity and… lakeness. The lake can cross over for awhile, inhabit a human body, comprehend the human perspective, or attempt to, but when winter rolls around, she’s going to freeze again. It works almost as a microcosmic, humanist retelling of the life of Christ.

I suspect there is something in the Hungarian title that gets lost in the translation—something about raspberries being both tart and sweet, like our own metaphor about lemons and lemonade. Of course I do not read Hungarian.


    1. Yay!

      I am willing to bet Amazon already has the books in stock. The official release date is April 30th, but as I understand it is more or less up to the individual bookseller whether they honor that or not.

  1. dear mjd,

    “Egy csepp málna” is the original title of the essay, now that translated to English is “egy” being one, “csepp” being drop, and “málna” being raspberry. Translating it any other way would alter the intention of the author.
    Please do not suspect unless you know.
    Kind regards,
    the translator of the essay.

    1. Noemi,

      Thanks so much for commenting here! I appreciate your insight into this question–and I didn’t mean to imply in any way that you might have mistranslated the title. Like I said, my knowlege of Hungarian language and culture is pretty much nil. I have a cousin who lived there for a few years and speaks the language, but at the moment she is *very* far from the internet and unavailable to comment. What I was wondering was not so much about the literal translation of the words, but of the cultural meaning of raspberry to a Hungarian reader. In English, we have an expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This uses the sourness of lemons as a metaphor for the unpleasantness that life can sometimes heap upon us. Is it possible there is a similar expression in Hungarian surrounding raspberries, which can be similarly tart and sweet (not to mention prickly)?

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