Preparation for my Favourite Sentence

Zoltán Poós
Novel (Balassi), 2000, 150 pages

„I’m filled with you like an excercise book.”

This novel is a sort of unconventional diary of an ill-fated fiancée who was left by his boyfriend before their planned wedding, and who is now trying to recount the life of the man he loved to finally give this text to him as a wedding present when he will walk the aisle with his new chosen one. The life story of Dénes, however, is not only composed of the informations he shared with her during their time together: Zsófia conducts a strict enquiry into the past of Dénes, visiting the important places of his childhood, digging up old essays from the archives of his elementary school, and interviewing his long-lost acquaintances and girlfriends in order to present the man she still loves with a past he may not even remember any more.

But, as Zsófia puts it, „if the future is an infinite collection of possible things to come, then your past also contains infinite variations of possible sequences. There will be things we’ll put more to the front, and some we will leave behind.” So not all parts of the narrative she’s weaving is real, or exact: she struggles to put together a past and a personality for Dénes which he will find appealing, but at the same time instructive, sometimes even revealing to himself.

Through the recollections of Zsófia we can see the childhood of Dénes which he has spent on the riverside, far from the capital, where his greatest obsession is to discover the secrets of the earth, with it’s buried treasures and relics from long past times and wars. We see him getting through puberty and his first erotic experiences, his love for pop music – a dangerous and excitingly new thing behind the Iron Curtain – as well as for literature which he starts exploring through the novel Les Grandes Meulnes by Alain-Fournier. Then he has to go to boarding school, experiencing the cruel world of boys locked up together in dorm rooms, where the younger ones have to serve the others only a few years older than them. And after that, the series of women: distant crushes and short-term girlfriends meticulously catalogued by Zsófia, all of whom were left by Dénes because of his idealism of finding a perfect love which would satisfy all his desires.

It is through them that we reach the story of Zsófia, in which Dénes visits her in America where she studies, for a few unforgettable days in Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Then Dénes lures her back home to Hungary with the promise of love, only to leave her half a year later for another woman, Anna, whom he is planning to marry in the present time of the novel. This strange wedding gift is in fact, as the title says it, Zsófia’s „preparation for her favourite sentence”, which is, of course, „I love you” – either an aching farewell to the man she loves, or the final argument to win him back.



„Zoltán Poós is thirty years old: he is among the first of his generation’s poets. The novel evokes the world of his poems as well as the childhood he has spent on the countryside in the seventies. Those who don’t know Poós and who haven’t been children in the seventies, will of course have to make do with the detailed observations, the clear story line unusual from a poet, and the subtle, surprising bravours of style, so all in all, with literature. This novel has the potential of becoming a cult classic.”
István Kemény

„…because it’s exactly this feminine nature is what is really tragic and exact in this novel. Poós – maybe intentionally, maybe not – was able to grasp that tipical Hungarian girl who we all know, the one who is cute, clever, nice, the sweetheart of society, and who still sucks at everything she does, because that is her destiny.”
Tibor Legát, Magyar Narancs

„…mapping the unmappable. With his extremely calm, clean-cut style and objectivity, [Poós] struggles to see deeper, to deduct some kind of transcendental order of things from memories, or more precisely, from the variations of memories.”
László Kiss, Bárka

„On occasion of his first novel, Poós has rewarded himself with a narrator who is very flexible, sensitive, empathic but critical, and most importantly, all-knowing.”
Béla Bodor, Élet és irodalom



Zoltán Poós was born in 1970 in Battonya. Since 1992 he has published four books of poetry and three novels. He has also written a book of essays on the emblematic objects of the sixties and the seventies, and on the 50-year history of Hungarian pop music. He was the founding editor of the WAN2 pop-cultural magazine and works as a journalist. His play Insults was published in 2010 and won several awards. More on the author

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