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Mátyás Falvai
( 1984 )

» Machine Tendrils (2012)


Mátyás Falvai is a writer, critic and editor. Born into a musical family in Győr in 1984, music, especially jazz, bears a strong infl uence upon his work. Aft er receiving his law degree in Budapest, he began working as a communications expert. He has been published regularly in print and in web journals since the early 2000s. Many of his novelettes have been included in anthologies. Falvai, who edits the works of young authors, is the main contributor to a prose column for an online journal.
He organizes a number of literary programs, discussions, public readings and camps. Gépindák (Machine Tendrils), his second volume, features an anecdotal voice and a leisurely narrative.
Its depiction of the world of workers through acerbic humor has brought him critical acclaim and a literary prize.
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Machine Tendrils

Mátyás Falvai belongs to the generation that was born before the changeover to democracy in 1989- 1990, but is too young to have signifi cant memories or experiences with socialism and communism. He knows the Kádár period only from history books and from anecdotes shared by his elders. The first section of Gépindák (Machine Tendrils) creates a familial and friendly setting for storytelling. In it the author treats topics frequently discussed by the generation before him who lived under socialism, among them artifi cially constructed and supported industrial cities, the fi rst telephone lines and over-sweetened linden tea, all of which are used as a sort of mortar for the construction of the worker’s milieu. However, for the narrator it is not the reconstruction of the past that is interesting, but the personal accounts. What it was like to grow up next to a factory (“A Kilencház” – “House Nine”), why a fi ght broke out at a wedding reception (“Jáger Márti mennyegzője” – “Márti Jáger’s Wedding”), or how factory workers played tricks on each other (“Perpetuum Mobile”). Th e unifying motif for the short stories is the struggle against boredom. At the end of “the lazily menacing steel body of the power station” children and adults, Slovaks and Schwabs try to forget the metallic dust and the machine grease. Someone constructs a perpetual motion machine (“Perpetuum Mobile”), while someone else “lives under the spell of [alcoholic] spirits” (“A Présház” – “Th e Press House”). With the elimination of boredom, however, safety and security also wavers – the intrusion of life into the “wheezing industrial world” overturns order, a transgression that must be paid for with an increase in the number of the dead and with more crippled bodies than ever before. In the second section of the novel, “Hiány-Variációk,” (“Absence – Variations”), the focus is not on personal stories or episodes, but on the portrayal of character and the interaction between people, but the recollection of the bittersweet past continues as before. In one engaging story (“Zapatu”), two young men share their dreams with each other, while in another (“A bordélyüzlet” – “Th e Bordello Store”), ambivalent feelings surface when two boarding school adolescents discover physical love. In yet another story (“Kelenföld, December 24.” – “Kelenföld, December 24”), an alcoholic father pays a Christmas visit to his family. What provides Gépindák with an endearing freshness is that instead of seeking to explore or understand human relationships and the period before the democratic changes, it tells stories about them. It takes stories about the world of worn prefabs gathered from family lore and turns them into full and engaging narratives.

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