PETUALANGAN CELANA DALAM is the first collection of short stories (in Bahasa Indonesia, recently we call this kind of book as KUMCER, an acronym of KUMpulan CERpen) of Nugroho Suksmanto. The book was published by Gramedia. The first printing was in October 2006. This writer was born on 12 November 1952 in the boundary of Pendrikan and Magersari, Semarang Tengah. Due to his birth place, I think it is not surprising if he uses some areas in Semarang as setting place in some of his short stories.
This book consists of seventeen short stories. The first five short stories—“Perburuan Wirog”, “Lolong Panjang”, “Tidak untuk Bermain Catur”, “Tuhan Meminjam Tanganku” and “Jadilah Orang Cina!”—have Semarang as the setting place. They also have similar setting time, during the decade of 1960s. Although “Petualangan Celana Dalam” was the first short story I read after I borrowed it from a student of mine, and I directly got strongly attracted to this book due to the same story whose title was chosen to be the title of the book, I must say that I was really enchanted by this KUMCER because of those five short stories. The “I” character was a little boy who was a teenager. They really reminded me of my own childhood, especially in 1970s. Everything reminding us of our childhood is always interesting? Perhaps because I can say that my childhood left a happy era in my memory.
The other twelve short stories have various setting place and time, from Jakarta, until some cities abroad, such as Belgium and the Netherlands especially for the one entitled “Putus Cinta di Belgia”. They have various topics too, such as the gloomy experience of someone accused guilty due to G30S/PKI, affair with other people, an innocent and pretty housemaid, mental breakdown, etc. Sixteen of the stories have male characters as the “I” (the first person’s view), and one has female as the main characters, as the central character. It is no wonder because the writer is a male. The only story with female as the main characters—entitled “Lukisan-Lukisan Perasaan”—seemed, in my personal opinion, very forced by the writer to give a different impression toward the readers. Unfortunately, apparently the writer didn’t dig out more deeply the emotional and psychological conflicts of the female characters. I am of opinion because the writer is a male. Comparing this short story to short stories written by Djenar Maesa Ayu with similar topics, I can see the weak investigation of women’s emotional and psychological conflicts done by Nugroho Suksmanto. (In the PREFACE of the book, Nugroho personally thanked Djenar for her advice to publish a book.) His strength lies in the male characters with their inner problems.
However, as a whole, I want to recommend my blog visitors to read this book. This is really entertaining and a bit contemplative for several stories.
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