Unapologetic Barbie

So, Barbie just appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary annual swimsuit issue (wearing the swimsuit she wore when she first appeared in shops in 55 years ago). And this cover caused a huge stir. Apparently it’s giving girls a wrong body image. This might be right but I don’t understand why a picture of a doll is worse than a picture of what is supposed to be a live, breathing woman but is so photo-shopped that no live breathing woman, even the one who posed for the picture, could ever look like that. Because her name adorned the title of my first book and because I (believe it or not) used to be nicknamed Barbie, she was always present in my work. This is why in my last interview for Croatian Cosmopolitan, I was asked a very interesting (and tricky) question: What have I learned from Barbie? I was always very quick to criticize Barbie (for her unnatural body image and dumb activities) but never spent one thought wondering if there ever was anything positive to having grown up with Barbie. This really wasn’t an easy question.

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Nomination for MIA Award 2013

I am very excited to announce my nomination for the MIA Award 2013 in category "Art and Culture". MIA Award is given annually to women with migration backgrounds who are especially successful in their field in Austria and who are active advocates in the issues of migration and women.

The award is handed out by the President of Austria, Dr. Heinz Fischer.

Please cross your fingers for me on 8 March 2013!

Link to my nomination:

MIA Awards 2013

 

The Pilot

Here the last few lines from my book “From Barbie to Vibrator”: The book brought me back to life.

But then, there was silence. And it lasted for a few days.

Patrick called first: “I knew it! It is all about Propella, Propella! It should have been called Propella Follies and not Laudonplace Follies!”  Beware of furious French Queens!

Siggi called next: “We read it, it is magnificent! It must be published!”

Then, Marcus called from Australia, totally excited: “We had such a sexy pilot on the flight! And he is STRAIGHT! During the whole flight, he was reading your book! He asked if all those sex things are true! He wants to meet you!”

At first, I liked the idea of meeting the pilot. Especially if he is still wearing his uniform. But then I imagined a plain crash in a jungle and somebody finding my book on pilot’s lap….. Oooops!

Message to all pilots:

Please, read my books in your hotel room. And for heaven’s sake, don’t take that uniform off! Wait until I am there! And yes, the sex parts are true.

Ah, I really like the idea of publishing this book

I’m doing this because yesterday, I heard shocking news that the pilot from this story, the last character in my book, died in a car crash couple of days ago. I heard he was handsome, charming and very professional. He was in his early forties and had one child. I never met him (the character Ana is not Ana) but I was deeply shocked about this news. A character from my book has died.

It is a strange feeling. Sad.

And I hate sounding kitschy, but I’m happy that with those few sentences, I was able grant him yet one more dimension of eternity.

RIP.

The 7th Crystal Ball

Last Friday, I had the most bizarre reading ever. I was reading from inside of a see-through balloon which was placed in the middle of the street. The idea was to create a stress-free zone in the city. Next to the balloon, there was a DJ, a bar, few lawn-chairs… I had to take my shoes off before I entered the balloon. I never read barefoot before. There is something different with reading barefoot. It makes the situation more intimate.

From inside of the balloon, the audience was blurred. The sounds were blurred. I could see them and hear them but there was this protecting shield between us. And then there was the eco… I could hear myself. There was something magical about it. The audience was there but not really. I was there but not really. Or realer then real (?).

It felt safe like in mum’s belly. It was my best reading ever.

And then I came home and looked at the pictures. I was stunned. I realized that I found myself inside of my own crystal ball. Shiva’s crystal balls from my Croatian book cover! It was the 7th crystal ball. The last one. The missing one. The one that belongs into the empty space above Shiva’s head.

And since I found myself in my own crystal ball, the magic took over. I got my first grant for literature.

I hope never to leave my crystal ball.

180 degrees in 1 minute

Last Saturday, I had the most bizarre and, after the book presentation in Vienna, the most fantastic book reading ever. I have been invited to read from “From Barrie to Vibrator” on the book fair in Wiener Neustadt, a small city 40km south of Vienna.

Two surprises were waiting for me there: first, Wiener Neustadt is an surprisingly pretty old city. Second, I was supposed to read after Annemarie Moser, a lady who is from Wr. Neustadt and still lives there. So basically, the audience was her audience. And here audience is from Wr.Neustadt and is between 75-85 years old. From Barbie to WHAT???

She read her stories for 45 minutes. Her stories are about elderly or sick people. Beautiful, but heavy and depressing. I was panicking. I changed the stories I was going to read for three times. I thought nothing can save this hopeless situation. I even considered disappearing. And to make things worse, there was a break between our readings. So I expected the audience to become either incurably depressed or to leave during the break.

They didn’t. Neither. Nor.

I started reading, scared like shit. And the faces of those grey-haired people immediately started lighting up. After one minute they were glowing like a bunch of little suns. After two minutes they were cracking of laughter. And they couldn’t stop laughing. I have never had such attentive, good-humored audience. They kept on laughing, listening carefully and applauding for 45 minutes. And then they asked for more! So I read one more story.

The first gentleman came to have his book signed as I was still sitting on the stage. And a whole bunch of people was already waiting at the books table for me to sign. They all wanted to meet me and talk to me. I haven’t felt so welcome and so admired since the book presentation in June.

It was just amazing how a situation can turn 180 degrees within one single minute. You can never, ever know how it might end.

Or was it all Frau Moser? I already considered asking her if we could always read together. So she can depress the people and then they can't help but adore me for lifting them up….

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"Von der Barbie zum Vibrator" is out!

"Von der Barbie zum Vibrator" was presented in Jenseits on 9 June. I had the most fantastic audience ever - a huge thank you to everyone who was there! We had lots of fun. The crowning of the evening was Roman Rafreider, Austria's most handsome TV presenter, who announced a report about my book presentation on ZIB 24 (the evening news) - there was something very sexy in hearing this guy pronounce my name.... Made me want to write many, many new books.

The link to the report (which I will not comment on) is below - it starts at 19'08.

ZIB 24

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Working....

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Partying....

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And eating!

Wearing my Book Cover

Today, I was sitting in Palmenhaus and drinking coffee with my friend Ines who is a stylist and an image consulter. And of course we came to the topic “What am I going to wear to my book presentation!!!!???” (Yes, my tussi-cells shrank in past years but will never completely disappear). So we had a long talk about what I would like to, should and should not be wearing. And then I remembered a dress with the same black-and-white pattern like my book cover. Just need to ad something pink and I am wearing my book. Ines really liked the idea, but then she added “Good that you didn’t wear your book cover in Croatia. Or maybe a pity – would have definitely boosted the sales.” I was naked on my Croatian cover.

I think we should make it into a rule that writers wear their book covers. Would make book readings much more entertaining.

P.S. This goes to Martina for her comment on my last post

Upcoming interview with A.Schwarzer

I am extremely honoured to announce that I will be granted an interview with Alice Schwarzer end of May. It is not at all that easy getting an interview with her. It will be very interesting because, while I do not agree with all her points and attitudes, I do highly appreciate what she and women like her have done for our generation. Now, it is our turn to find our bearings and continue working on making this world a better place. In one of her lectures, she said: “We offer the new generation our shoulders to stand upon and climb even higher.” We should say “Thank you” and resist moving backwards.I have also been offered to write for her magazine Emma, which will be a big honour for me. Now let’s see if the offer will be withdrawn once Barbie is out in German – as I learned, the book (and I) can be seen as both feminist but also anti-feminist. Laudonplace claims that this depends on if I am having enough sex or not. Hmmm, interesting times ahead. And here the second announcement: Von der Barbie zum Vibrator will be out in German on 26 May 2009. I am one happy, happy, happy person!

P.S. My publisher proposed a Tajder brand - Tajder Home, Tajder Beauty, Tajder Style. How about "Pimp my Tajder"?

Note to potential husbands

Here's a nice Christmas present to me: My Austrian publisher's catalogue of spring releases just came out. I brought it to my parents yesterday, all proud and excited. And they were also proud and excited. But then they started worrying that once the book is out in Austria, I will never get married. My liberal, intellectual 1968ers parents scared the shit out of me....

So here a plea to all my potential husbands:

1. Check out the category my book is in: LITERATURE! Not autobiography/non-fiction/"Sachbuch"

2. Yes, it does say "some parts autobiographical" - but hey, this sells (after all, I am a marketier by profession)

3.  Isn't it just excellent to live the devil out when you are young so later you know you're not actually missing anything as you're feeding a screaming baby at 3 AM instead of dancing with models in posh clubs?

4. I can cook!!!!!

And here a quote from my book's review in Croatian Playboy (claiming that my book is just opposite of being feminist): "Feminism has failed - because as long as every Carrie is just dreaming of getting married and having a baby, nothing has changed."

Yes, we are a lost generation.....

The Tour

The book tour was a fantastic but tiring experience. A friend, a great American writer who just finished his tour told me “I think I'd rather have eye surgery on a helicopter than do another book tour.” No, it’s not that bad - we are just a bit exhausted when it’s over. It takes a lot of energy to sit in front of the audience, always with a new moderator who is a very clever person and discuss things like emancipation, crisis of a system, confusion of a generation and your private experiences. Then come the interviews….. But it is extremely rewarding meeting people who are interested in what you do, write and think. I had some great questions from the audience. So here a big THANK YOU to everybody who came and supported me on this great adventure.

And here a task to my readers and friends:

In Sibenik, I was interviewed for the national television by a young and very charming reporter. He obviously contemplated about his questions because he started the interview with a great one: “So, what happens when Barbie finds the vibrator?”

I have to admit I was so confused by the question that I asked them to stop shooting and give me a moment to think. Not very cool, isn’t it?

I still don’t have the answer….

This is why I was thinking: The readers of this blog seem to be clever, witty and fun people, so why not ask you guys to help find a good answer?

So, tell me:

What happens when Barbie finds the vibrator?

Pula: Zdenka Viskovic, a writer who understands my book better than I do. And Vlado Mandic, a journalist from Glas Istre.

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Zagreb: Zdravko Zima, a literary critic and a fantastic mind. And Sandra Mlakar, my ediotr.

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I love Pula

My book tour started in Pula, the ancient Roman city on the north of the Croatian coast. The presentation was fantastic - and completely different from my presentation in Zagreb in May, as the book just came out. In Zagreb, I was asked only about the parties, the men and shopping. In Pula, my book was presented by Ms Zdenka Viskovic-Vukic, a poet and president of Pula Film Festival. Zdenka understood what the book really is about and for one hour, we talked about the pain of growing up under the pressure of today's deformed society, about trying to find real values in this mass of artificial values, about the process of putting it all out and shedding your skin - in order to find the true YOU. The audience was fantastic. I hope that the rest will run just as good. Thank you, Zdenka. And thank you, Pula.

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There is a reason why you have to study to become a translator!

O.K. I gave it a try. I really did. Gave my best.

This weekend, I translated the first two stories from my book from English to German. My Austrian publisher and I hoped that I could translate my book myself – it is a different thing if  you are a translated author or an “at home” author. Well, I obviously don’t have a home…

Good girl I am, I translated whole Sunday long and then gave my piece of art to my neighbour Marcus to correct it so that I get a feeling of how wrong it is.

Next morning, Marcus came into my apartment in his pyjama, with a cup of coffee in his hand, sat on my couch and looked… well ... grim.

“Many mistakes” he said, a bit uncomfortable in the “don’t shoot the messenger” manner. I begged him to be honest – my career as an Austrian author (or not) was at stake. So, I made myself a toast and a cup of tea and sat down next to him so he could explain the mistakes. “The cases are wrong. There are many typos. And there are things you just cannot say like that in German.” “O.K. but once those things are corrected; does it sound like… something?” I wanted to say “a piece of literature” but didn’t dare. Marcus was speechless. O.K. I got it. It’s crap.

He started explaining the mistakes. And I don’t remember the last time I laughed that much. There is nothing sweeter than laughing about yourself. We were cracking down with the second page (“What the hell is this, a sentence????!!!”) when I told Marcus we should actually film those correcting sessions and make them into “Laudonplace Big Brother” – the jokes (actually my translated texts) were funnier than any reality show I’ve ever seen before.

The conclusion is: my book gets a translator and I get a course in German writing. It is sad but true: I am definitely not an Austrian author. Neither am a Croatian author. And I am for sure NOT a translator. I’m nothing. And everything.

 

Catch me if you can

Last week, I was at the Profil Megastore (my Croatian publisher’s flagship store) to see how my book is feeling there. I found a book by Banksy, the UK street art guru (see my post from 20.5.2008) which I can recommend to everybody - it will both amuse you and make you think. So, I sat down at the café on the gallery to have a cup of coffee, look at Banksy’s work and occasionally glance down to see how people “interact” with my book. And then I realised I never signed any books for the store, so inspired by Banksy’s interventions, I simply went down, picked a huge pile of my books, brought them up to my coffee table and signed them. Each with a little note, of course. I returned the books and was very amazed because NOBODY reacted. I could have been just anybody writing anything into anyone’s books. I could have taken a bunch of Candace Bushnell’s books and signed those. Lesson learned: you can do whatever you want, as long as you do it with an overdose of confidence. “Catch me if you can”, remember?

Later that day, I proudly told Lucija about my “intervention” into my own books. “Shit, what if people complain that someone destroyed the books! Even the people working at the store can’t know the signature is really yours!” Well, shit happens. Maybe somebody gets the joke. And if not, if they really think someone else signed my books, they will have to throw them away – and print new books. And that’s how you get your second edition!

Playboy's having me for breakfast. I wish.

Just read my book’s review in the June issue of Playboy. I got the whole page, which is great. The author (she) is complaining that it all sounds too good to be true. First, who said it was all true? It’s a novel! Second, my life really is too good to be true. So either way – I won. And that IS too good to be true.

She also complains that I prove that feminism failed. Because now we do have it all - diplomas, career, independency, gorgeous men - but we still want to look great. And have a family. I see it other way round – I think feminism won because now, we can have it all – including a family - and still DARE to look great! How about that?

True Friends 101

I’ve just learned one thing: you can forget all that shit about real friends being there when you are in state of emergency. You learn who your real friends are when things are running fantastic! It is the ego thing: when you have a problem and you are down, many people will be happy to help because that’s when they are in the stronger position. When you are crashed, they are clever, rational, helpful, strong – which subconsciously boosts their ego. But hey, when you are up and fantastic things are happening to you and they should be happy for you, that’s hard. Because at those moments you are strong, you are the star and they only have a supporting role. And it’s only true friends who can forget their egos at those moments, and share your happiness without being the very centre of it. Some will just pretend as if nothing is happening, some will only say what’s polite, some will simply disappear. And some will even invent a reason to attack you. Peace.