A writer starting a new book is in dire need of time to research the place and intrigue of the characters. I asked a retired writer when he had it better: before ‘89 or after. He answered promptly. If you managed to “dupe” the communist censorship, you were in heaven. You put in your request to the higher-ups, to show the comrade censors your intention. In a few days, you would receive a car with a driver, room and board, and some pocket money on top. Two, three months to keep researching the “crime scene.” Then you started writing, building your novel steadily, and, if you passed the second censorship, you made it big. The book was published on public money, between 25,000 and 100,000 copies, which filled the bookstores of our dear homeland. You received good money and 100 free copies. After ’89, the prose writer was thrown out on the street. Some had the strength to get up and start over, issuing a mea culpa. Others have succumbed as authors.
I was lucky. I hadn’t written anything before ’89, the censorship was gone, and my position as a television journalist was to my advantage: I wouldn’t miss any events or news, and was, so to speak, an eyewitness to our non-transitory transition. I kept telling myself, this transition would go to hell the year after. But the political class, with its slogan, in new times, it’s us, time and time again, had begun to like the transition. And, in this manner, the politicians destroyed our education system and our specialists first, then the industry with the whole economy. The governments that kept coming did what they knew best, which was nothing. After ten years of journalistic routine, I had all the necessary ingredients to build a durable and sustainable City of the Last Eclipse.
Listen here, squeak-squeak on paper, the great critic scolds me, how long do you think your city will last? As Picasso said, a work that does not live in the present is not worth it. I replied with a bland smile, grinning from a balcony in the City of the Last Eclipse. My city was born at the same time as corruption at the highest level and will perish with it.
A thousand years of silence had settled on the great critic’s tense face.