Cornel Mihai Ungureanu turns indeed to the daily life brimming with stories, to the non-fictionalized life, saved from banality by visions of miraculous universes.

The world in The Steps of the Snake is a retro one, of town-dwellers who return – even if only for the holiday – to the countryside, where they find the savor of stories "from other times", told by witty, wise old men. The dialogs flow naturally, without any false chords, the novelist knows how to observe the oral quality of the speech, the colloquial ambiguities, the meanings hidden in unfinished sentences.

(Bianca Burta, Observator cultural nr. 171/2003)


(...) the excellent book by Cornel Mihai Ungureanu, A Blue Butterfly (Ramuri Publishing House), that affects the same "here and now" realism, touching, by its straightforward manner and by the chosen topics, a journalistic style, to reach the realm of decisive questions, treated with slight doubt and heavy irony.

(Simona Sora, Dilema Veche, nr. 2, 23-29 ianuarie 2004)


Cornel Mihai Ungureanu is the writer whom Blecher or Kafka would have loved, retractile and nevertheless strong as he is in his profound writing, so strong that he tears the plaster cast of the world who immobilizes him.

(Nicolae Coande, Cuvântul Libertatii, 3 februarie 2006)


A Blue Butterfly is what it was programmed to be, the official inaugural moment of the relationship between the author and his audience. A good part of the nuclei that define his world are taking shape now: the familial as relationship with The Other (a whole army of aunts and grandmothers, brothers, sisters), the young couples, the kisses that have an almost haunting weight in the show that is observed and narrated, the paradoxical desire to be what he wants and doesn’t believe that he is, namely a writer, but also the acquired reflexes that will come to characterize his style: a propensity for what Bogdan Suceava is calling, in his preface to this book, ‘fissures’ of reality.

(Xenia Karo, Vatra, nr. 5/2006)


Under the – bravely chosen! - name of the heroine, Mystery, the multiple threads of a coming-of-age story unfold and eventually converge, based on the archetypal intersection Eros-Thanatos, imagined by Cornel Mihai Ungureanu, in The Steps of the Snake (T. Publishing House, Iasi, 2003). From a narrative point of view, the book is a sample of delicate interweaving of small stories, each with its own autonomy, all communicating to each other through apparently insignificant details, flashbacks and comments buried in dialogs caught with the ear of a behaviorist writer. From

the angle of a contemporary consumer of epic – preferably compressed, it seems –, the novel, if not too big, represents one of the most tempting offers, managing, without ostentation, to camouflage the signs of a world beyond the profane expression, shockingly pedestrian (...) Although an obviously accomplished "slice of life" writer, Cornel Mihai Ungureanu is drawn, in the first place, to life’s enigmatic areas, those that turn the "cold" observation into the eye of a surreal painter.

(Gabriel Cosoveanu, Ziua literara, 26 iunie 2004)


Cornel Mihai Ungureanu is perfectly readable because he writes stories that win you over, stories of a sensibility that affects the reader up to eliciting an open degree of sympathy, stories where you have plenty to savor, not rarely with surprising twists, with a few small cliffhangers, with characters whose fates challenge or induce agreement, in conclusion, stories that offer themselves to reading, to whom you abandon yourself without realizing, and which, amazingly enough (or not), provide a final contentment, a satisfaction of having journeyed through them. A certain sprightly pace, a naturalness of the discourse, a simplicity and a true affability in establishing a relationship with the reader, all these make Ungureanu’s stories into small delicatessen.

(Ioan Lascu, Ramuri, nr. 6-7, 2003)


On the other hand, if we were to find a superior concept governing this novel, it would be the idea of angels. And not as much because of signs of mythical/miraculous behaviors, because of the significances exuded by the disappearance of two characters in the end, or because of paragraphs that point to images, suggestions, foggy memories connected with asexual-angelic shapes; more due to the configuration of an initial state of beatitude assigned to the condition of the fundamental act of cultural treasuring that is the story, which must have originated during the age of the angels.

(Constantin Dram, Convorbiri literare, nr 8/2004)


Well structured, with a nuanced dialog, with oneiric inserts, ingenious flash-backs, with memorable characters, Cornel Mihai Ungureanu’s stories communicate that precious sensation of life, of authentic existence in an easily recognizable frame: the days of our lives.

The stories separate anonymous fates, that however accede to an exemplary status via an irrepressible will to affirm themselves, to impose their personality. The young people depicted in his book writhe in the fishnets of daily life, fall in love, suffer, create illusions for themselves or are overwhelmed by desperation and violent crises, but never lose their ingenuity, because they are beings who have seen the angels. In fact, beside the behaviorist technique, borrowed, I would say, from the Americans, the insertion of fantastic represents one of the trademarks of the writing offered to us with generosity by Cornel Mihai Ungureanu.

The Petre Pandrea prize comes as a recognition of this talented writer, enslaved to the mysteries and the charm of storytelling.

(Constantin M. Popa – Beings who have seen angels – Introduction to the Petre Pandrea Award for Fiction Writing, offered by magazine Mozaicul in 2003)


The Steps of the Snake is, we would say, a laboratory study about angels or, better put, about becoming an angel, a study built on the indexicality of ‘angealization’, on the ambiguity of relation of those two terms, two kinds of identify, human-nature and the angelic-nature. The writing strategy belongs to an author who masters, up to a level where they become reflexes, the unexpected, the surprise, the ‘secretivity’ (apud Matei Calinescu). If in [A Blue] Butterfly he could be suspected of playing, of engaging in a dispute with himself and with his own writing abilities, in The Steps of the Snake his confident way of fashioning a story that culminates into an inspired ending is the sign of a prose-writer well equipped for writing stories. The repetition, each time with an enriched meaning, of The Secret, the camouflaging of one character in a quartet are movements used to build a box of echoes that seems to be the secret of this novel, of writing itself, in fact.

(Xenia Karo, Vatra, nr. 5/2006)


Cornel Mihai Ungureanu, A Blue Butterfly (Ramuri Publishing House, 2003). Short stories by a young writer with a intensely shivering candor, full of smooth, huddled anxieties, of the immodesty of an impatient naivety, unable to disappear – all the qualities who led us, for a good many years, to open his letters as soon as we received them and to publish them in our magazine without hesitation.

(Radu Cosasu, Dilema nr.549/2003)


What Cornel Mihai Ungureanu really wants with his novel, The Steps of the Snake, is to show us that nobody is alone, that we have each other.

(Ramona Sendrescu, Mozaicul, nr. 2-3-4, 2004)


The "novel" We, Two-Three in Every Ten Thousand, made up of four inaugural stories, a considerable journal, disguised in epystolary style – The Well-Tempered Clavier (Letters for Cristina) – and six final stories, is habitated by a nonconformist youth who listen to Pink Floyd or Neil Young, swap CDs, watch TV talk-shows, listen to Horia-Roman Patapievici on the radio, read Lucian Raicu and Ortega y Gasset, spend their holidays at Vama Veche, Garana or Sighisoara, attend exhibition halls and refuse to grow up, therefore to allow the mercantilism, vulgarity and obtusity of the world where they live to swallow them, thus replicating something of the protestat of the hippy years and holding Kerouac as a venerated model. It could be believed that it is a generation of misunderstood freedom. In fact these young people suffer of too much lucidity: "Like a glove fits to my sadness this country of epidemics, of earthshakes, of poverty, of the underworld and of secret services, of degrees obtained in exchange for money or services, of oppresed old men who die quietly in isolated villages". What an unforgiving diagnosis.

(Constantin M. Popa, Ramuri, nr.4/2006)


In the flagship piece of We, Two-Three in Every Ten Thousand - specifically, The Well-Tempered Clavier (Letters for Cristina) – the "diary" fiction reaches a maximum of transparency. The stone in the ring of this book is sustained by a gold cast of ten stories that recommend themselves as homogeneous fragments of the same intimate discourse. Borrowing the appearance of stories, these second-degree texts have their well-defined importance in the economy of the book, contributing, through their fundamental homogeneity, to the reconstruction of a sui generis novel - perhaps the unique, fabulous book, veritable mirage or modeling obsession in the search of whose the writer-narrator reorders, in writing, his whole existence.

(Madalin Rosioru, Tomis, february 2006)


Even the beginning of this novel (The Steps of the Snake) obviously contains a structure fraught with boisterous reality. It seems endless. A journey on the train who went ahead "swaying like a duck", blazing dialogs about "These students... A callow bunch!" who "never go out in the street", atmosphere of thick tobacco smoke in that train – called Old Hyacinth Lady – who carried drunken gas workers and "a short and fat railway employee". The novel, opened in the same simple, disconcerting, devised way of his fantastic, Eliade-like stories, continues with the atmosphere of a different epic mode. A dictatorship of reality is not perceived. On the contrary, the real is always put in the position of being resuscitated after an almost lethal dose of fantastic, administered at times in a deviantly mystic, symbolic, impenetrably personifying manner. (...)

This novel must be read with the eyes on the page and not looking out on the window of the Old Hyacinth Lady train, it must be read like a fractal-like novel. I relegate this pleasure to the reader.

(Tiberiu Neacsu, Mozaicul, nr.5-6, 2003)


Every time when I read pages from his stories I remember a movie where Dan Nutzu was playing the part of a discreet young man, with a rich inner life: The Mornings of a Nice Boy. Cornel Mihai Ungureanu is such a "boy", and, in opposition to the eternal furious youth, he resides under the sign of prose-writers who, without deceiving themselves about the subtle manifestations of Evil in this world, wait for the Good, in its efficient and simple forms, to triumph: through love, as it is written in the Gospels.

(Nicolae Coande - LAMA, 20-21 septembrie 2003)


We, Two or Three in Every Ten Thousand is a collection of narrative sequences, ingeniously connected to a tyrannical super-theme: an attempt to negociate the auctorial rapport between the internal and external realms. (...)

From the alert dialogic option, much more obvious here, we deduce, this time, a much more daring attitude, so that, for instance, the temptations of lyrism, followed obediently in the previous books, are now kept only as springboards for irony and sarcasm. (...)

Accomplished writing becomes a character in itself, the motive-character, the wonderful being kidnaped by the obscure forces of the unconscious. We are reading a book about waiting as hunting for a peak, about waiting for fulfillment, about how to wait and what could be done while waiting. (...)

The auctorial option seems to go towards the availabilities of the feminine agent, present in all its shades: the maternal impact, the protective-sisterly, the amorously-ungrateful, capricious, delicate, spiritual (or not) feminine figures. The alibi of looking for a partner able to wait for him while he is weaving stories operates as a parable for seeking the tone of the book, in such a way that the sought-after femininity becomes both writing and flesh-and-blood beloved woman. What is invariable is the role assumed by femininity, in the splendor of all its types, that of a catalyst in sketching and feeding the auctorial cocoon.

(Xenia Karo, Vatra, nr. 5/2006)