UNIQUE ITEM - delta novel with a hundred endings ~BookRing~

by Milorad Pavic | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 8673464498 Global Overview for this book
Registered by zzz of Rakovica, City of Belgrade Serbia on 6/14/2005
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14 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by zzz from Rakovica, City of Belgrade Serbia on Tuesday, June 14, 2005

This is Milorad Pavic's latest novel, published last year and translated in English few weeks ago. This time Pavic has written "multi-ending story that diverges into one hundred branches".
In Serbian there are actually two books: one which is regular novel ("Unique Item") and second one is "Blue Book" with rest 99 endings. English version is a fusion of those two books so reader may "choose his/her own end".
From the book:
The author has followed the ancient wisdom that says: the ending is the crown and the demise of a work. Therefore this novel is not like other books. It finishes differently for every reader, so each receives his own end to tale. For this book has one hundred different endings. Like the hundred gold coins that the poor man in a folk tale receives for a magic bird. Thus you can choose whichever ending you prefer. Leave the rest to others. Be satisfied with your own end, you do not need another's.


"Just as smoking is bad for your health, so is the reading of a hundred endings of the same book. It is almost like gaining one hundred deaths instead of one"

So everything is up to you...

UPDATE: 20th June 2005.
Well, this book is far away from Dictionary Of The Khazars or "Landscape Painted With Tea" or "Inner Side Of The Wind" but then it wasn't meant to be such an ambitious work (that is my impression). So it is important (but hard, I admit) to avoid taking this book with thoughts of Pavic's previous novels.

At first I was surprised by style and I'm not sure did I like it. As if someone is describing me scenes from movie while I'm in the kitchen for a few moments. But then comes his metaphors, describing, his tiny magic spider net - old Pavic! And of course I'm finding myself seduced again. It is kind of hard to define where the plot is actually sets? In "reality" or in dream or in story about characters are dreaming but it seems in all those floors.

Pavic is writing about (among other things) some old (unknown?) books, about one famous writer, his work and life based on actual, historical facts (which always thrilled me) but of course with his typical few drops of magic.

Now, you will love this book or you'll hate it, but again this is typical for all Pavic's books.

I didn't read "Blue Book" because I wanted to turn this ring on. On the other hand I may read it whenever I want since, as I wrote those branches are separate from their tree in Serbian version. My end is number 19 and I'm satisfied so far.

Now, Pavic has left at the end of the book some blank pages for those readers who wish to write their own end. If you are on of them, you may do that, but I'm afraid there will be not enough space for more than few so if there are no space for you, add on some paper your own end into the book or you may post here whatever you wish.

That's all (for now).

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This is Milorad Pavic!

Journal Entry 2 by zzz at on Thursday, June 30, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (7/1/2005 UTC) at


Mailing list:

1. blaisezabini12, Cluj-Napoca - Romania (read and released)
2. concertina8, Vienna - Austria (read and released)
3. BookHaven01, Porto - Portugal (read and released)
4. CatharinaL, Tampere - Finland (read and released)
5. ScottishHoosier, Westhill - UK (read and released)
6. UrbanSpaceman, London - UK (read and released)
7. chelseagirl, Hampshire - UK (read and released)
8. rahar109, Hampshire - UK (read and released)
9. tehuti, Nottingham - UK (read and released)
10. YowlYY, Nottingham - UK (read and released)
11. kittiwake, Nottingham - UK (read and released)
12. angi612uk, Devon - UK (read and released)
13. MrsDanvers, Cambridgeshire - UK (read and released)
14. goatgrrl, British Columbia - Canada (asked to be skipped)
15. ldpaulson, California - USA <------ Book is on its way here!
16. affinity4books, Texas - USA
17. cordelia-anne, Georgia - USA
18. icekween01, Missouri - USA
19. Luintaurien, Nebraska - USA
20. mojosmom, Illinois - USA
21. Megi53, Virginia - USA
22. Lisagt, Sidney - Australia
23. Rrrcaron, New Hampshire - USA
24. GlasgowGal, Glasgow - UK
25. quico, Coimbra - Portugal
26. Pequete, Bragança - Portugal
27. Sternschnuppe28, Mainz - Germany
28. KittyNic, Hull - UK
29. sunflowergirl, Pocklington - UK

Safe voyage!!!

Journal Entry 3 by rem_DUV-129661 on Tuesday, August 02, 2005
This book was picked up by my brother from the post office. I have just returned from Italy and it was one of the many books waiting for me home:) Will read as soon as possible!

9 August 05: finished the book today and it was a strange reading which doesn't suit me that much. The thing I enjoyed the most was probably the ideea of being able to dream the dreams of someone else.
My ending is number 18 but I think that the endings weren't assigned numbers randomly: it seemed that each new ending offered a new piece of information so it was a good idea to read them all in order and then decide where I should have liked the ending to be.
I'll mail the book this week to the next reader. Thank you zzz for offering the oportunity of reading this book.

12 August 05: mailed this morning to the next BCer

Journal Entry 4 by concertina8 from Wien Bezirk 13 - Hietzing, Wien Austria on Monday, August 29, 2005
after some extended traveling, the book arrived safe and sound in vienna. i'm really looking forward to this one, since i enjoyed "the dictonary of the khazars" so much...
have to finish one book i'm currently in the middle of, but that shouldn't take too long.

thx to blaisezabini12 for sending and of course to zzz for sharing!

Journal Entry 5 by concertina8 from Wien Bezirk 13 - Hietzing, Wien Austria on Monday, September 05, 2005
finished the book over the weekend. it was not quite as mind-bending as "dictonary" but still a, as the title would suggests, "unique" idea. every now and again i need to read books that are not the linear novel-type. so i did very much enjoy it. obviously, "unique item" was not as ambitious as "dictonary", yet still satisfying in it's own strange ways.

my ending was 22, but i agree with blaisezabini12 that it was nonetheless crucial to read all offered endings, as details helpful towards the unsolved or only partially solved murders were given and different approaches towards solutions were suggested. i believe some endings were connected story-wise.

what bothered me, though, was a serious amount of spelling mistakes and wrongful use of english propositions. even though i'm far from being an english scholar, this did irritate me a lot. seems to be a rather poor translation work.

anyway, i have contacted bookhaven01 for re-confirmation of her address (she was after me in the list for the previous dictionary-ring, so i DO have it). the book should be off sometime this week.

yet again a big thank you to zzz for the intruduction to milorad pavic, an author i probably would not have stumbled into at local bookstores, since there are no books available by him, as far as i know, which is unfortunate.

Journal Entry 6 by concertina8 at by mail in To the next participant, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (9/7/2005 UTC) at by mail in To the next participant, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



on its way to portugal...

Journal Entry 7 by -BookHaven- on Saturday, September 17, 2005
it's with me!
i have a couple of rings ahead, but i expect to start reading it within a week.
thanks a lot zzz and concertina8!

Journal Entry 8 by -BookHaven- on Saturday, October 01, 2005
i'm afraid this books looses in the evaluation we make of it, because the dictionary was so extraordinary. but it is rather good and i did enjoy it a lot, although somewhere in the middle it looses it's pace to regain it in the new informations the hundred endings give to us.
pavic has an exquisite imaginary and it was a wonderful opportunity to get aqquainted to such an extraordinary author and for this i thank you, milan!
as for the mispellings, well the same happened to the first edition of ulisses, so no worries...
in my opinion, pavic is also making a revolutionary, ground breaking work, he is really good, and i hope to hear more from him.

i almost forgot... my ending is 19.


unique item is moving on to finland this monday.

Journal Entry 9 by CatharinaL from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Unique Item arrived today--many thanks to BookHaven01 for sending and zzz for organizing! Will start reading asap.

(I took quite a while to peruse the beautiful postcard of Belgrade, attached to the inside of the back cover. My hubby visited the city this summer and immediately recognized the Prince Mihailo pedestrian street!)

Journal Entry 10 by CatharinaL from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Tuesday, October 11, 2005
I just had an evening well spent reading Pavić, and, um, frankly I'm stunned beyond words by the thought processes the text evoked. This beauty is worth a shining 10 out of 10--it's one of the best if not the best book I've read this year. [Dictionary of the Khazars is yet to come my way, but judging by the comments of the previous readers I'll soon be in for another major reading experience!]

I loved the tightly-woven thematics on every one of the levels, with an abundant dab of surrealism thrown in. The web-like structure was absolutely brilliant and so entirely different from traditional narration that it's difficult to even start to unravel or further analyze Pavić's postmodernist mastery.

I also love the ambiguous name chosen for the genre, 'delta novel', as both referring to the symbol for change, sexuality, and the water branching off in multiple channels as in the delta of the River Nile. All the possible endings together formed several new layers to the story, but after reading the evidence pouring in from all of them collectively, I'm choosing #53 - maybe for its subtle hints to Distelli's inheritance & the lovely décor of allusions to surrealist art. Maybe. After all, it doesn't really matter.

The physical appearance of the book as an object (= the cover illustration) also takes my breath away. I'll definitely be looking for more of Tamara de Lempicka's work. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the sloppy orthography and the linguistic errata in the book. Please tell me the "Bella Bartock" was just an intentional infliction of pain on the author's part :-)

Oh, just a note: what does the last name Lempytzka actually refer to? De Lempicka, sure, but maybe also another perfume, Lolita Lempicka Au masculin? And was Klozewitz supposed to have evoked the military philosopher Clausewitz and his ideas of nonlinearity?

[27/10] The book has been mailed to ScottishHoosier.

Journal Entry 11 by ScottishHoosier on Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Look what just came in the post!! The postman was very late today, so I assumed there was nothing for us. Then through the door came this lovely book! Thank you, zzz for sharing, and CatharinaL for sending it to me!

Journal Entry 12 by ScottishHoosier on Wednesday, November 02, 2005
What a unique book! I sat down and read it today. My four-year-old stayed home today with a little bug. He's feeling better already. But he and my two-year-old were happy to play with themselves, so curiosity got the better of me. I read the book.

When I was a pre-teen and into my early teen years there were a series of books which were very popular in the US. They were called choose-your-own-adventure stories. There was a bit of story to give you the setting, and then you had a choice to make. For A you went to page 12, say, and for B you went to page 34. There was some more story, and then you had another choice to make. And so it went. I thought this book would be similar to that. Not so! You are told the story of three murders and the book is nearly done. The detective investigating the murders is unsatisfied with the results, and keeps on looking. The reader then picks one of the 100 endings and reads it. I chose no. 59. It is recommended you leave it at that. I did read a few more of the endings, but decided not to read all 100. I'll be a good girl!

I found the book quite surreal and quirky, but we are dealing with the world of dreams. When do dreams ever make real sense? I would have liked to have known more about Alex and Sandra. Why were they so in debt. What was their project? And they were lucky that Sir Winston was happy to wait so long for them to achieve what he told them to do.

I also noticed some misspellings and strange combinations. I wondered with the strange combinations if they were not translated well, or if the author had written something equally strange in the original. It didn't distract me much. It is a first edition, and I would never have gotten to read it if it hadn't been translated!

I haven't yet read the Dictionary of the Khazars, so can't compare. I'm looking forward to being able to.

Thank you very much, zzz! And the postcard is beautiful! I hope to go to Belgrade some day, and hope to meet you.

Journal Entry 13 by ScottishHoosier on Wednesday, November 09, 2005
All packed up and ready to go. Will go to the post office in the morning.

Journal Entry 14 by ScottishHoosier on Thursday, November 10, 2005
Posted this morning by 9:30. Happy travels!

Journal Entry 15 by UrbanSpaceman from Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Friday, November 18, 2005
This arrived yesterday with a genuine NASA Space Museum postcard. Thank you! I'll read this as soon as I can, but it's currently in position 4 on my pile of ring books.

Journal Entry 16 by UrbanSpaceman from Kingston upon Thames, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I'm sorry to have had this so long. I was away travelling for a while and then, after reading half of it, it disappeared a few weeks. It only reappeared once I had ordered a replacement copy from Yugoslavia - quite in keeping with the surreal nature of the book. I wonder where it was all that time...

Anyway, a very interesting novel. While reading it I was struck that it is itself somewhat quite like the description of dreams given in it. Now, having finished it and read some (but not all) of the possible endings, I does seem more like a dream that I've dreamed that a book that I've read.

I'll send it on to Chelseagirl once I've checked her address.

Journal Entry 17 by chelseagirl from Faringdon, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Saturday, January 21, 2006
I have absolutely no recollection of ever signing up for this, must be getting even more absent minded than ever! Still, this certainly looks like a unique read. I've got a few books in front of it but will read and pass on asap.

Journal Entry 18 by wingrahar109wing from Ash Vale, Surrey United Kingdom on Saturday, March 18, 2006
Like Chelseagirl I also have no recollection of signing up for this, but it sounds intriguing.

Journal Entry 19 by wingrahar109wing from Ash Vale, Surrey United Kingdom on Sunday, May 14, 2006
What an odd book! I don't know what to make of it, there must be something that I'm missing. I read a few of the endings and still didn't get it!

PMing tehuti for her address.

ETA: 20/05 Posted to tehuti this morning

Journal Entry 20 by tehuti from Swansea, Wales United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Apologies, work, illness, domestic stress and travelling have conspired to prevent a timely journal entry for receipt of this book. I will try to read it as soon as possible.
Rahar100, I've just rediscovered the chocolate you sent :)) Thank you so much. I'm secreted away in a place of refuge where I've been nursed back to health and given lots of TLC and all is perfect except I was yearning for chocolate and my host has none. I'm fixed now, heh, heh.

Journal Entry 21 by tehuti from Swansea, Wales United Kingdom on Sunday, February 11, 2007
I'm so sorry, zzz, for keeping this book for so long. Life keeps getting in the way of important things like Bookcrossing.

I read this book on the way to and during a brief break in Rome so was able to read all of it in very few sessions. I enjoyed the surrealism, history, magic and dreams, with the corresponding questions raised as to the nature of reality. I confess also to being a mega sad individual and reading ALL the endings, but this is where I also have to express some disappointment, because none of them really satisfied me!!! I wish I had the talent and imagination to write my own ending and send it on with the book!

Will pass on to Yowlyy as soon as possible.

Journal Entry 22 by YowlYY on Wednesday, February 14, 2007
A loud "thud!" was to be heard this morning shortly after 9...it was this book!

I will start it soon... I am quite intrigued by a book that offers 100 different ways of ending a story!!

Journal Entry 23 by YowlYY on Tuesday, March 13, 2007
This book is strange indeed...it's a series of surreal immages and strange characters, sometimes it gives the impression to be very fast, then it's on the slow motion again... a book on acid and valium!
My ending was no.12, and I was strong... no more endings for me, although I am not so sure it is a good ending for that story.
Anyway, enough said...the book is going to be passed on to Kittiwake at the Nottingham meetup on Saturday, 17th.
Thanks for sharing and getting to know another author I'd never heard about before!

Journal Entry 24 by kittiwake on Saturday, March 17, 2007
Gabriella passed this book on to me at today's Nottingham BookCrossing meeting.

Journal Entry 25 by kittiwake on Wednesday, March 21, 2007
An odd book, but odd in a good way, as I did enjoy it, but I was weak and read all the possible endings before choosing the one I liked best. My favourite editing error was 'rubble' for 'rabble'. I'm fairly sure that Pushkin's characters were attacked by an angry mob rather than having a building fall on them!

My favourite ending was number 26, which left Chief Inspector Stross with his suspicions about the suspects' degrees of guilt and innocence but no proof.

Journal Entry 26 by angi612uk from Whitchurch, Somerset United Kingdom on Sunday, March 25, 2007
It arrived yesterday thank you, but it must now sit quietly on Mt Toobe and stop shouting at me to be read!! I'll just finish my current read then I'll get to it.

Journal Entry 27 by angi612uk from Whitchurch, Somerset United Kingdom on Sunday, April 01, 2007
Just finished reading this unique book. It is so modern/fantasy art!! You think you understand then...wham....something off-beat hits you in the eye! An intriquing book but I don't think I'd rush to repeat the experience. Thanks for sharing. I'll PM Mrs Danvers for her address.

Journal Entry 28 by MrsDanvers from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Thursday, May 03, 2007
Received in the post today. I'm looking forward to this. Just one book to finish before I can start this, so, fingers-crossed, I shan't be long with it.

Journal Entry 29 by MrsDanvers from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Thursday, July 19, 2007
Sorry this has been with me for a long time - work has taken over my life for the last two months. Now I'm almost finished the book so it will be on it's way soon.

Journal Entry 30 by MrsDanvers from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Tuesday, July 24, 2007
goatgrrl has asked to be skipped so I'm in search of a new address across the Atlantic to get this on it's way.

Journal Entry 31 by MrsDanvers from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Saturday, August 18, 2007
Posted to ldpaulson - going to California.

Journal Entry 32 by MrsDanvers from Aldeburgh, Suffolk United Kingdom on Friday, September 07, 2007
Sorry I forgot this:

I found the first part of the novel the best and liked the character "Alex". I got a little lost in the surrealism and dreamscape in the report. Mt ending was 8 wich wasn't very satisfactory, but I resisted the urge to read the others to find something I liked.

I was curious about Pushkin's ancestry and have done a little research since - fascinating, one doesn't really think of slave traders in the context of Africa and Russia.

Unfortunately I felt the mystery of the narrative was let down by the poor translation to English.

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