I thought that The Museum of Unconditional Surrender was an extremely interesting read, especially with regards to its structure. For one thing, a good portion of this book was written as a numbered list. This was a style that I haven’t come across before in literature, and I thought that it worked really well in this novel, because not only did it allow Ugrešić to have a format to explore her ideas that was visually appealing, but also having events and thoughts ticked off by numbers added an almost monotonous quality (or perhaps monotonous isn’t the exactly the right idea, but I’m not sure what fits here) that I thought was really interesting and I very much enjoyed reading.
My favorite section of this novel was part five, “Was ist Kunst?” Art was a major thread throughout this novel, but this was the section that most directly addressed the concept of art. My two favorite answers to the question “what is art” were “Art is an endeavour to defend the wholeness of the world, the secret connection between all things” (161) and “I don’t know. An act which is certainly connected with mastering gravity, but which is not flying” (169). I thought the first answer was especially intriguing. The idea of art being used as a connection isn’t exactly novel, but I like the idea that art is what keeps the world from breaking up into pieces. I’m not completely sure I understand the idea that art is “an act which is certainly connected with mastering gravity, but which is not flying,” but at the very least I thought that this was a nicely poetic idea. I think that not only are both of these really beautiful answers, but I really liked the idea of having a section dedicated to exploring the impossible question of what art is.
In addition it was nice reading a novel not only written by a woman, but also told from the perspective of a woman. While other novels that we have read have certainly featured women, this was the first that only had a female protagonist, and I thought that this was a nice change of pace that offered a fresh perspective on some of the issues that the other writers have been exploring.
On a slightly unrelated note, I’m eating a fortune cookie whose fortune says, “to remember is to understand” which I think ties in quite nicely with Ugrešić explorations of memory.