Erzenka Publishing House (2022)
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (11/2022)
When I received “Expraedium“ by Armen Melikian I knew right away that this wasn’t your average read as the first thing I noticed was that the book’s format had no structure. And, when I began reading it, I realized how challenging it would be. Now, I am an open-minded reader who loves to experiment with new, weird, and unconventional writing, but Melikian totally threw a curve ball at me with this book. He definitely will be considered either a genius or a madman.
To get a feeling of the “Expraedium” ride, imagine yourself watching a movie in “orc” language (fictional new language) with no subtitles and a blurry screen. Readers will be parachuting into a dark void with no guidance during this read as there is no grammar to help them to follow along. Words’ meanings are unrecognizable, and the paragraph formatting makes no sense according to any known language in the western world. Yet, intriguingly, the reader does feel that there is a story unfolding.
My curiosity kept me turning pages and as I did, my brain got somewhat more comfortable. However, I can’t say that reading it got any easier, for it was very difficult to find and follow a plot. I did read the back cover and found no synopsis of a story, so I finally gave up all the expectations a reader has about books and just read what was in front of me. It was then that I began to appreciate what I was reading.
To me “Expraedium” by Armen Melikian is an experiment for the author and for readers. For the author, it may be a test to himself on how far he can go with no restraints on writing techniques or literary rules while also pushing the borders and limitations on our cultural views and rules. For readers, it is the challenge of what and how much are we willing to take from an author who respects nothing of our conventional views in all areas of our society and our literary comfort zone. This challenge is not for everyone, and many will not even embark on it. But for those that do, I offer a tip: Expect nothing! Clear your mind and see what you can get from this crazy, unique ride.
In my case, I found thought-provoking satire and points of view. I felt tested, ridiculed and even angry as I kept reading but, in the end, found I enjoyed the random poems much more than I wanted to admit to myself…
Overall, I can imagine “Expraedium“ by Armen Melikian having its own fan group meeting once a year at a convention to share their unique views of the world in the “orc” language. I rate this as one of a kind read, which I dare everyone to experience.