The main character of the novel, or “fragmentary patchwork,” Telesa v temi (Bodies in the Dark) is a writer nicknamed Hank who once wanted to pen a story about someone who had been castrated after having contracted testicular cancer. A few decades later, the writer himself lives out that story. Unable to physically participate in sex, he must redefine his relationship to himself and sexuality. If neither a man nor a woman, what then? He gives himself over to fantasy, peripatetic memories, observing the sex life of his partners, living through the sex life of literary characters, analysis his unusual situation, and visiting a psychotherapist. He himself turns into the main and sole theme of his story. He speaks of himself through fragmented passages in various means of discourse: quotations, dialogues, interviews, autopoetic reflections, allusions to music, movies and other (pop)cultural references. The protagonist exists only as metafictional hero in a meta-world, who says of himself that he has become a “walking and breathing quotation on two legs.” “New postmodernism” and sex for the gourmet.
Bodies in the Dark is an impressive novel. Lenko has opened a new chapter in Slovenian novel writing in at least two regards. To my knowledge, Slovenia has not yet had a prose fiction text that has so saucily explored relatively taboo forms of sexual practices but which at the same time has deftly avoided slipping into pornography or displaying various “excessiveness” and “despicable aspects” solely for the sake of such showing – that is, out of some sort of voyeuristic pleasure. And Bodies in the Dark is also the first Slovenian book to have internalized theoretical preconditions to the extent that we can read it as (convincingly!) literarized theory – and this is only one dimension of this multi-dimensional text.”
From the foreword by Tina Kozin
Original title: Telesa v temi
Edited by: Tina Kozin
Afterword: Tina Kozin
Price: 18,00 EUR
Lenko’s writing does not hide the fact that it’s a game of love. On all sides; in terms of theme, in terms of the desperate, elderly and wobbling old ladies with their hairy and sagging boobs, loose bellies, stretch marks and cellulite, it smacks of Bukowski and his desperate attempt to overcome the loneliness that there, in the American situation which is a trying one for the proletariat, is not without its lucrative dimension.
Matej Bogataj, Mladina
Postmodernist approaches no longer work the way they used to; actually, they can even seem naïve, because those sorts of literary games play themselves out much faster than traditional approaches. And yet: a) the main scope of this novel lies not only in the linguistic playfulness and self-referentiality, and b) in our space, such a high level of comprehensive narrative awareness still impresses and instils – paradoxically – confidence in the power of the writer. […] Bodies in the Dark’s literary excesses unite libido and discourse. […] Thus, the novel builds something firm, substantial and beautiful, and its poetics truly transcend nihilism, while looking beyond postmodernism.
Tina Vrščaj, Pogledi
My reading experience informs me that it’s very difficult to write about sex (let alone postmodernism). People (even or especially writers) often lie about sexuality. The variations are of course numerous, but statistically speaking the most common are probably: embellishment with a touch of the transcendence, from which it is very difficult or impossible to discern what we are in fact dealing with, and overestimating our own sexual experience, and thereby hoping to let the public know that both our sexuality and literature as well as our life in general is something lofty and magnificent, and that death and oblivion should therefore make an exception for us.
Katja Perat, Airbeletrina
Bodies in the Dark is a great surprise because it so rarely happens that a first novel burns so clearly and nimbly. Lenko knows what he wants to say, and serves things up in a way that invites us along. Into the dark.
Ana Schnabl, Dnevnik
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see a pornographic movie made by Woody Allen? Probably a bit like reading Davorin Lenko’s first novel: plenty of ironic self-analysis, inert visits to the therapist, witty intellectual mental games with a friend, sleepless nights and mildly neurotic relationships. […] The novel is full of Weltschmerz but also of subtle humour and (pop)cultural references that are kindled by the novels of Alain Robbe-Grillet, Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments and schlocky country songs.
Maša Ogrizek, Bukla
In the constant returning of the same narrative prisms one sees not a random dispersion but a balanced montage. This overtly metafictional narration, interwoven with quotations from literature, music, movies, art and reflection as such, is a very readable, concise and lucid one, as well as a skilfully assembled work that pulls the reader farther and farther towards the end. In spite of the castrated and spotted theme, the book is actually very reader-friendly. Lenko is very much a master of suspenseful economy, and he even throws in a narratological trick or two.
Matjaž Zorec, Radio Študent