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Literature / Wild Tales 1967

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Wild Tales original title: Диви разкази (Divi razkazi) is a 1967 collection of short stories by Bulgarian writer Nikolai Haitov, set in different times (from the Ottoman Period up to present day) in the Rhodope mountains in Southern Bulgaria. Each individual story, a Slice of Life of various people from this rural, secluded mountainous region, is told from first person, either by the protagonist himself, or by someone who is amazed by them and their life. The work is praised for its vibrant, emotional tone, colorful, authentic language and vivid descriptions of the diverse ethnic groups in the Rhodopes, most notably the Muslim Bulgarians known as Pomaks.

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Not to be confused with the Argentinian film of the same name.


This work contains the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Mito's Grief is about the titular character's mother who ruined his life with her incessant narcissism, demanding that he marry a beautiful woman and spending her days making life harder for him and his Hollywood Homely wife.
    • Karaivan in The Goat Horn when he trained his daughter into a relentless killer and tried to subdue her femininity, breaking anything at home that could serve as a mirror and cutting and burning her hair so she looks like a boy.
  • Action Girl: The assassin from The Goat Horn Maria Karaivanova, who could wrestle, ambush and kill any number of thugs and Evil Overlords.
  • Almighty Janitor: Panaiot from Bare Conscience chooses this post over a mayor's to avoid red tape, and then has to prevent some municipality fraud.
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  • Alternate Animal Affection: Averted in Longing, where the protagonist is astonished by the affection a ram shows to the sheep (every sheep, there were several in a row) before and after mating. He uses that (complete with "even animals know to make love better than you") as an example to teach local men to act like gentlemen and be tender to their wives instead of being Domestic Abusers.
  • Arcadia: The Rhodopes are described as still being one in the early 20th century.
  • Badass Boast: Hasan Meshov's uncle gives one to the man who's about to marry Hasan's lover after challenging him to a duel for her:
    Uncle Selim: Aim well, Brakhom, son of Mad Mehmet, for if you leave me alive, I'll make you spew out your mother's milk!
  • Badass Native: Ahmet Delikadirov from Forest Sprite, who would single-handedly guard the forest from interlopers, sabotage them, become The Dreaded to all herders who would then be careful not to cause fires or chop wood illegally, fight off multiple guards with his hands tied, and escape an ambush despite leaving a puddle of blood.
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  • Canon Welding: The protagonist of one story, Hasan Meshov, appears as a narrator of another one.
  • Captured on Purpose:
    • Milyu from Tangled World so that he doesn't go to war during WWI, as part of the Uriah Gambit pulled on him by his father-in-law.
    • Panaiotov from Bare Conscience commits defamation of the government when he's cornered by the corrupt ruling elite and about to be murdered.
  • Cat Scare: The protagonist of Fear had a series of these. He spends one night at a remote cottage and starts hearing some rattling in the dark, which causes him to shoot blindly. A while later he starts hearing a creepy, trickling noise that goes on for quite a while and leaves him scared to death. In the morning, he sees a large heap of grain in the middle of the room and realizes it poured from the attic, which he shot a hole in, and produced the scary noise. As for the rattling, the owner tells him that was a badger who had come for a snack.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Some of the stories have a pretty light tome from the start, then things get grim all of a sudden.
    • Grozdan from Bare Conscience is having a pretty harmless time as a Guile Hero, if slapped with some fines or other light punishments to keep him from talking. Then he gets word a Macedonian sharpshooter has been hired to kill him.
    • Likewise, Milyu from Tangled World has been getting through life well, eve if it was a bit of a bumpy ride. Then he barely survives two attempted murders from rival shepherd gangs.
    • Ramadan and Silvina from Seed of the Dervish start their marriage happily in love. Then her brothers kidnap her and sell her to Ramadan's brutish neighbor.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative: The protagonist in Under the Train's Whistle complains about his son and son-in-law who use his "accomplished fighter against fascism" status to milk profits and then have the audacity to berate him for not having done more.
    "I didn't fight for posts and Mercedeces, sonny, I fought so that there are no more leeches!"
  • Consummation Counterfeit: The source of conflict in Dervish's Seed. The young (14-year-old) newlyweds successfully fake it by drawing blood. However, after the girl doesn't get pregnant for some time, her neighbor strikes a bargain with her brothers and has her kidnapped so he can marry her.
  • Country Mouse: Ignat from Tree Without Root is an old man whose son invited him to move in with him to the city. He misses everything about the remote, quiet mountain village he lived his life in and laments the city life which is, to him, hectic, fake and divorced from nature.
  • Create Your Own Hero/Create Your Own Villain: In Ibryam Ali, the eponymous character turned to brigandry to avenge his mother who was tortured and murdered by his landlord:
    Becho: Besides, we knew he wasn't born a brigand, but Mad Grey made him into one.
  • Elopement: Wedding has Hasan Meshov try this with his lover, Hatte. However, they only decide to do it when she's about to be given to a local Evil Overlord's son in an Arranged Marriage. Hasan gets scared when the overlord and his henchmen roll in and runs away, but his Kavorka Man of an uncle stays and defends Hatte, who ends up marrying him instead.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Grozdan from Bare Conscience has to bribe a lot of people to escape getting offed for outing corruption. He discovers the people he has to bribe are in cahoots with his enemies.
  • Forest Ranger: In Forest Sprite, a ranger (the state-appointed kind at least until he gets sacked) fights to preserve the woods from Corrupt Corporate Executives who want to cut it down.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Grozdan Panaiotov from Bare Conscience has to get himself captured so that he evades assassins when he has no one left to help him. He stages a funeral, but in the casket he puts a government pamphlet and "buries" the ruling party in order to commit treason.
  • Glory Days: The protagonist of the first story, Manly Times, recalls how glorious it was when he could run rampant as a bandit and do things such as stealing a bride for hire.
  • Guile Hero: In Bare Conscience, a janitor has to employ all kinds of trickery and bending the law to fight a scheme to cut down a forest, and then save himself.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Ramadan in Dervish's Seed after decades of watching his neighbor abuse his ex-wife whom he still loves, uses that the neighbor gets sick and is about to kill him and take her back. She stops him with "if he was a beast, don't you become one, too."
  • In Love with the Mark: Sheban, the bride-stealer for hire from Manly Times, is smitten with the beautiful (and well-endowed, as he points out) Statuesque Stunner of a bride who won't give up without a fight. She also likes him better than her wimpy would-be groom so they (the bride and the stealer) end up having sex on the way, but ultimately he finishes the job because he gave an oath, and she has to marry the wimp. Sheban still has regrets when he's telling the story.
  • Keep the Reward: In Paths, Vlasho explains before the road manager that he clears paths through the forest simply for his own enjoyment and sometimes by popular demand. Subverted at the end when he does not refuse a reward when offered, which the manager takes for false modesty and gets mad.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The narrators often exclaim in second person singular, as if talking to the reader, but sometimes it turns out they're telling the story to a person they met somewhere or are reporting to.
  • Lifesaving Misfortune: In Tangled World the protagonist gets beaten by a group of people who had it in for him, then is found unconscious by his co-villagers and escorted home. Some time later he learns that a bit ahead on the road, another enemy of his was waiting to impale him on a spike and roast him alive.
  • Ludd Was Right: In When the World was Pulling Its Breeches Down, the protagonist gets mad and tries to have his revenge at a newly built shoe factory which killed his trade of crafting more customized and elegant kundur shoes.
  • Mood Whiplash: The life of Milyu, the protagonist of Tangled World is a series of those, alternating a stroke of good luck with awful misfortune.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In The Goat Horn, after the assassin is revealed. The murders are described again, this time from the point of view of Maria and her father and how they disguised themselves on missions.
  • My Greatest Failure: In The Wizard of Breze, the eponymous character used to make good luck charms. One of them he made for a young girl to protect her from evil, but it didn't save her from being killed by her jealous husband when she was with her lover.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: In The Goat Horn, a mysterious assassin starts murdering local Ottoman tyrants by stabbing them with goat horns.
  • Revenge:
    • In Ibryam-Ali, the eponymous character is driven to banditry by a a wealthy man who framed him of theft and then had his mother tortured and killed in order to have him surrender.
    • In Dervish's Seed, Ramadan Dervishov, the protagonist, longs to have his revenge on his neighbor, who kidnapped his beloved wife and forcibly married her.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Ramadan and Silvina are 14 years old and fall in love. It doesn't last because their neighbor caught wind that she's still not pregnant and bought her from her brothers.
  • Planet of Steves: Grozdan Panaiotov gets a hint from a fellow inmate to use the fact that he's far from the only one with that last name in the village, as well as that he's only signed his fraud-exposing reports on behalf of other people with his last name, so he can plead not guilty.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hasan from Wedding gets one from his uncle who defended and married his fiancée when Hasan failed to do the same.
    Uncle Selim: She-eagles are lured with live prey, Hasanchek, not with dead meat!
  • Rite of Passage: Exam is one for Liyu, a cooper who has just passed his formal exam, but working with customers proves to be another challenge altogether.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Karaivan from The Goat Horn trained his daughter to do that in his stead, because he was a cripple, after two Ottoman feudals raped his wife who lost her mind from the ordeal.
    • Ibryam Ali does that to his landlord.
    • Ramadan fantasized for years about how he'll do this to the neighbor who kidnapped and forcibly married his bride.
    Ramadan: You ever see a scarecrow all stuffed with straw? Nothing inside! No heart, no bone, only the straw keeps it upright. My straw was evil! It was keeping me on my feet. The evil I would do to Roufat. It was always on my mind. Under the rug and on the field. Day and night I thought how I'd chop him to pieces with an axe or stab him in the belly with a knife, so that he doesn't die there and then but suffers. How I'd drag his guts on the ground, stamp them with my feet and rip them with my nails. Then I dismissed that too: not enough pin with the knife, so I thought of a new torture - to choke him slowly, with breaks, but I knew that if I got my hands on him, I'd never let go, so I dismissed the choking too and thought up a new torture. Three hundred times I've killed him and brought him back to life. My head was burning. Thousands of times I slaughtered and flayed him. My hands were straining, my teeth were grinding, until one day the straw in the strawman took fire, fever shook me and I fell ill.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The assassin from The Goat Horn turns out to be the daughter of Karaivan, a peasant whose wife was raped and killed by the Ottomans.
  • This Is Your Name On Foreign: Downplayed. The language is the same, but Ignat from Tree Without Root complains that his son introduces himself by a modified Patronymic, "Ignatiev", to make it sound more sophisticated than the original name, "Ignatov".
  • Tragic Keepsake: The eponymous MacGuffin in Kalinka's Cowbells, which her husband made from her coin necklace after she died in childbirth, so that he can still hear her voice in their ringing.
  • Training from Hell: Karaivan from The Goat Horn gives one to the mysterious assassin who turns out to be his daughter.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: To varying degrees. In an interview, Haitov confesses that some of his stories were directly told to him and he only embellished a little, some were filled with Composite Characters of various real-life people, and some were for the most part fictional, based on some people he only heard mentions of.
  • What a Piece of Junk: In Exam, Liyu the cooper completes his first order, a huge keg. The customers aren't impressed because instead of steel rings, he used phloem ones and insisted that when processed under special conditions, they're even more durable. To everyone's surprise and Liyu's triumph, the keg survives a test run in which it's tumbled down into a rocky ravine and suffers no damage at all.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The protagonist from Under the Train's Whistle developed claustrophobia after getting stuck in a cave as a child. It haunts him as a soldier when he gets incarcerated, and later as a rebel (courtesy of the same colonel, no less). That eventually causes him to surrender and gets most of his privileges revoked after the communist takeover.
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