Stern’s Attempt to Love
Rights sold:Spanish, Bulgarian
Bertrand Stern is a young intellectual in the midst of an existential crisis. He finds no satisfaction either in his career or in his love life. After the breakdown of yet another relationship, he decides to go to the film festival in Karlovy Vary – with the intention of finding new love there, rather than to watch films. During his stay Bertrand is introduced to the porn actress Marie and is immediately attracted to her. He also gets to know Lucie, who works for an NGO and is at the festival looking after blind visitors. Bertrand develops emotional ties to both women, but again he fails to build a relationship. A novel about a man who appears to lose his emotional self between pornography, philosophy and art, while craving vainly to find deeper meaning and fullfilment in life.
I read Stern’s Attempt to Love as a reflection of how today’s world is being emptied. Erotica on the imaginary border between porn and vulgarity presents a much sharper view of social disintegration in the globalized world.
Stern is rather like narrators in Houellebecq and Bernhard – the more irascible the tone in which they spit out their hate, the more we suspect a craving for love and human understanding under the surface. In the end, this is probably Zábranský’s greatest weapon.
Zábranský’s portrait of young adults who never encountered communism and have nothing more with which to get to grips than their own hedonism, may one day serve as a fine sociological definition of this particular generation.