Raluca Comanelea is a woman writer from Brasov, Romania, dreaming, creating words, and teaching from Las Vegas, Nevada. She paints the surrounding world in fiction and creative nonfiction colors. Her work centers on the human drama lived behind the closed doors of a dominator culture, one which pulls the average man into its vortex with an intensity hard to contain.
Raluca’s fiction has been featured in STORGY Magazine, Reflex Fiction, Toho Journal, Twist and Twain Magazine, Secret Attic, and Little Somethings Press, among other literary venues. Raluca’s fiction chapbook, The Art of Surviving in a Glass of Water, was a finalist for Newfound Prose Prize 2021. This same manuscript has been long listed for C & R Press Summer Tide Pool 2020 Chapbook Awards and for Thirty West Publishing House’s Wavelengths Chapbook Contest 2022. Raluca has also been awarded a finalist prize for her collection of flash stories celebrating her, A General History of the Feminine Brain, by Eyelands Book Awards 2022.
Raluca’s academic work, centering on American drama and theater, has been featured in Popular Culture Review and in The Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature. She holds an MA in Literary Studies (awarded in 2019) from UNLV, and she has been awarded an entry scholarship to The Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing’s MFA program for the Spring of 2023.
Find Raluca on Twitter (@RComanelea), on Facebook (Raluca Comanelea) and on Instagram.
I am a woman born in Romania, a writer residing in Las Vegas, but also a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a stranger. I am all these, and more. At times, I am the best I can be. Other times, I am not. But writing has empowered me to become everything I ever dreamed to be, in single shooting moments.
The surrounding world we inhabit is a stage, and I believe we should reenact as many roles as we can in the course of our lifetime, so that we gain intimate knowledge of ourselves. With multiple layers of our personalities peeled off, human drama moves from the realm of the theatrical to flesh-and-blood exposition.
I am often remembered in a gipsy-style blouse, a faded-red skirt, a pair of vintage boots on my feet, wearing my hair clips as a work of art, always holding on to that fountain pen and notebook purchased by a lost friend from the streets of Camden Town.
I am an eternal lover of freshly brewed loose-leaf teas, of strangers and dialogues blooming in the month of July, of pets and farm animals, of yoga, of trial and error. The smell of rare books brings my mother’s scent back into my nostrils.
At times, I shed tears at the thought of how many ants my tiny feet have squashed through the years. How misunderstood we all are in our daily actions! But universal hope washes our collective guilt off. I believe in a lot of things. I believe in colors, in healing, in home, in children, in books, in cats, in the smooth and subtle power of a fountain pen on white paper. I believe in you, my dear reader and most intimate friend through this journey of Creation.
The whole universe nests in my heart. And in yours.
Above All Bones
[…] Hank waited for her at the main gate on Rue de Repos. He bought her a yellow mirror reflecting a lovely Parisian cafe scene. Now it’s broken. Hank and Judy saw a most ugly dog under the Eiffel Tower. Judy felt sorry for his ugliness. Hank didn’t. Time and again, Judy felt sorry for all things ugly: women’s dresses, cakes makeup on a porcelain white woman, platinum blonde dyes, chlorine-bathed chicken carcasses hung upside down.
They returned to Hotel Josephine without holding hands. Hank breathed in her ear and locked her heart on a wall overlooking The Seine.
In Defence of Pseudoscience, Reflex Fiction Volume Five: link to anthology here
A Glass of Fresh, Clean Water from Lake Baikal
The 1st prize goes to Raluca Comonelea for her story A Glass of Fresh, Clean Water from Lake Baikal. It is a sad, heart-rending tale of a remote, reindeer-herding people in Siberia, near Lake Baikal, who had a pure life in the wilds until the coming of alcohol. The last scene, where a drunken mother takes one last drink of pure lake water and lies down in the snow to die, is unforgettable. Especially when her young son lies down beside her. It is outstandingly original in both voice and story, with a lasting impact after reading. The story was both darkly funny and moving. Very clever. Right from the beginning, this story had dynamism and flair that captured the interest of the panelists. They admired how the writer was able to do so much in such few words, painting a picture of a way of life and the ways that external, negative influences can undermine generations of tradition.
Twist and Twain Short Story Contest 2020-21: link to story here
A Glass of Fresh, Clean Water from Lake Baikal
“[…] On her porch, Svetlana drank cheap vodka from plastic bottles. She drank and kept silent. Before dawn, Misha would approach her with timid steps, touching her shoulder and whispering, “mama, forget the reindeer herding. I will be a famous wrestler one day and I will fight all those people who did us wrong, mama. I will, mama!”
She drank and kept silent, understanding that what did them wrong were their own choices. Her father’ choice, her own choice, Igor’s choice, that fucking tree’s choice, Dimitry’s choice. She drank, kept silent, and waited for the sunrise.
That’s when Aunt Varvara stepped in and extended her a second glass of fresh, clean water from Lake Baikal […]”
Quillskeepers Press website: here
Snowdrifts, A Winter Inspired Anthology: link to Amazon here
“[…] ‘I know you, baby blue eyed man. I witnessed your public conviction at Târlungeni. I was a gal of only 13. They had you chained by the legs and your big, blue eyes were shooting rays of terror at the spectatorship. You were the most handsome man to be publicly convicted in the history of the town. I see that you’re out and about.’
She firmly squeezed his left hand, allowing a tender slip of his last 3 fingers, the elongated fingers of an artist. She walked away, fluttering her pleated red-poppy skirt, dancing with the rhythm of a gentle wind.
He watched the dance, unable to feel the wind like she did. He has given the world his worst and his best. He knew. The gypsy woman knew. His baby blue eyes have killed a man, bashing his brains in. His baby blue eyes birthed impressionist art on white canvas. What if the gypsy woman was the female trickster who all of a sudden brought to him the torch of change and possibility? […]”
Leicester Writes Short Story Prize 2021: link to Short Story September Festival here
She Reads Baudelaire
“[…] Using her father’s bewildered eyes as mirror to witness her own change, the girl transformed her young, sprouting beauty into a cinematic femme fatale image: plenty of rouge, black eyeliner, rice powder. She pulled a chair in front of him and sat down crossed-legged. She put on Dana’s oven mitten on her right hand, and, graciously, took a drag on a wooden match. She slowly exhaled the bitter taste of F-A-M-I-L-Y. Blew the smoke right in her father’s face. He coughed and begged for forgiveness once more.
Without looking back at her perplexed and sinful father, the young girl walked out of the apartment situated on the 4th floor to buy a cookie wrapped in yellow cellophane.”
Toho Journal Vol. 3, Issue 1 (Resilience): link to fiction piece here
You Don’t Have Class, Mr. Lennon
“John Lennon lived with the belief that plants would surely rob him of all air in the room. He refused the mere green sight of them. It was when he met Yoko that he embraced plants for what they truly were. Givers, gifts, gardenias, jukeboxes. Lennon and Yoko lasted for an eternity, but it was in those in-between spaces that the two bipeds felt alive, decipherable, drunk, and embarrassed […]”
Daily Drunk Magazine: link to essay here
Above All Bones
Judy’s eyes beheld the vertical, upside-down statue of Oscar Wilde resting at Père Lachaise, Parisian cemetery which holds vast quantities of bones. She was looking for Hank’s hat, and she found it among those solemn graves covered in moss. Green is life. And green is also death. A simplest ‘À Ma Mère’ engraved on a tombstone is breathless.
Green was the taste of that hollowed-out cigar filled with pure hash. Judy sucked it dry…”
Reflex Fiction: link to flash story here
Scratch and Score
“My mom started pinning red poppy hairclips to my long, loose curls to keep away those wingless, parasitic, blood-sucking crawlers. Contrary to popular myths, they thrive in clean, voluminous hair. At the kitchen table, I kept my head bent over a newspaper, while grandma used a fine-tooth comb to drive these uninvited guests away. My scalp itched and itched and itched, and I kept on scratching…”
"Judy stopped smelling like a flower bud, fresh and young. That new blood stain on her cotton undies brought a metallic scent about her, of blood and bacteria, one that only she could smell. The rest of her in-laws, absorbed in their daily gambling and the eternal smell of potato borscht, didn’t pay much attention to the subtle feminine changes taking place in the girl..."
“… In the operating room, a room full of masculine pride and intellect, the human drama commenced. The professor, surrounded by his three assistants, began the medical procedure. The general atmosphere reeked of human indifference, monetary greed and vacation plans. Gabriel’s soul lifted above his body and dared to look beneath at the whole affair. He saw himself surrounded by the seemingly hasty medical staff. He was floating above his own surgical bed, above the progressive medical equipment the hospital had boasted itself with, above the professor’s head, and above the heads of the three assistants. Gabriel felt so big and so small, a feeling bigger than himself, bigger than life, bigger than space. He was floating in the room, becoming part of the ecstatic dance of the atoms and molecules…”
Shifting Shapes in Play and Performance: Blanche DuBois, from Witchy Female to Marginalized Other
This literary scholarship is featured in the Journal of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association: The Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature, Vol.74, No.1, Spring 2020, along with the following abstract:
“This study explores Blanche’s social position in the dominant culture as the ultimate embodiment of the witchy female who reinforces the hidden powers of the marginalized Other to challenge the status quo. Blanche’s ambiguous figure celebrates shape-shifting through reflections of witchy images: the mother, the prostitute, the femme fatale, the grotesque female, the Sphinx, the strange attractor. Actors reenacting Blanche’s theatrical persona on stage have always experimented with an intense female character. Williams’s primary unpublished manuscripts reflect the playwright’s struggle in painting a clear picture of this female’s shape-shifting character.”
Get Me the Hell Out of Here
In the hostel’s velvety red lobby, Judy swished and swooshed back and forth in everybody’s hammock, feeling like a newfound mermaid in her colorful Goodwill clothes and her three-dollar shoes bought from the Romanian gypsies six years ago at the flea market. She shared the lobby with Nino, an architect of Slavic descent. Back and forth, they passed a joint rolled by a charming fellow without a home. It spread a green smell on the tongue. Gay Nino was gifted. He could beautify his immediate surrounding with some rocks, sticks, and acorns, much like male birds in a Darwinian story [...]
Full story link published by Reflex Press here
A Fly in the Eyes of Mankind
Dudu lost his balls because of his roommate’s cat. Molly, his ex, prefers to imagine a yellow canary of a cat, taking feline-like steps, with grace and delicate balance. But no, the cat is somewhat fat, quite black, with small white paws. He is the ultimate tuxedo cat, a proud American [...]
link to flash piece and writer’s bio here
Vicky is Jesus
Surrounded by bamboo trees, Molly lounges in her stained oak rocking chair, observing her spotted male cat and wondering which Goddess showered the boy with the gift of true patience. But not the kind exhibited by humans, who simply fall into a momentary lapse of reason and stare with vacant eyes at their immediate surroundings. It’s the kind of patience which defines rules of a social game […]
link to flash piece and writer’s bio here
NINETEEN sixty eight, April edition. Bachelor taxpayers screwed over by the existing system. The praise of cotton for the commodity it truly is. Deconstruction of linguistic skills of American flight attendants. Possibility of alien life in the cosmic system. Catalogue of impressive automobiles of the 60s. Ulysses! Joyce, a man of schizoidal tendencies [...]
Link to micro piece here http://lanceschaubert.org/2020/05/20/playboy/
A woman’s push is the supreme act of creation. Patriarchy has attempted since time immemorial to debilitate the fascinating power of this push which belongs entirely to the feminine realm. Birth has become ingrained in the minds of citizens as an urgent time for institutional intervention at the expense of motherly instinct. Reclaim your instinct, woman. Push, damn it!
Read the entire post here: https://alphafemalesociety.com/2020/04/10/push-woman-by-raluca-comanelea/
Archetypal Development in One Body, One Image: Female Theatricality in Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”
This literary scholarship is featured in the Journal of the Far West Popular and American Culture Associations: Popular Culture Review, vol.31, no.1, spring 2020, along with the following bio:
Raluca D. Comanelea completed her MA in Literature in the Department of English at UNLV. She worked as research assistant to the Director of Composition Program and has taught a variety of introductory English composition courses on campus. Raluca’s present focus is Tennessee Williams’s vast repertoire of plays and short stories. She is also a creative writer, and currently working on a novella, Desire and Cemeteries, as well as a compilation of short stories about the complicated and distorted history that surrounds cultural myths propagated in the Western world.
Events and Awards
Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association: 75th Annual Convention
Special Topics: Popular Culture
Raluca D. Comanelea, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Shifting Shapes in Play and Performance: Blanche DuBois, The Witchy Female as Marginalized Other
Eyelands Book Awards 2021
Finalist prize for “A General History of the Feminine Brain: A Collection of Short Stories Celebrating Her”
Excerpts from the prize winning books here
[…]Your grandfather’s war medal stares you in the eye, boldly, reminding you of your long-forgotten androgens. Your chubby body remains static. You have long ago reclaimed the divan for your manly needs: pulling a nose hair with vigor, scrolling social media accounts in a premeditated order and hitting those likes mechanistically, caring less if the image depicts a fisherman or a mermaid, stirring into the food in front of you and blowing repeatedly in hopes that it cools off faster because your hunger is devilish […]
Eyelands Books Awards 2021; Greek translation and excerpts from prize winning manuscripts here
The Far West Popular and American Culture Association (FWPCA): A Glass of Fresh, Clean Water from Lake Baikal
This creative short story brings to the forefront a cultural clash of the old and the new in remote Russian territories, along with characters pulled into an intense vortex of the most tragic of life circumstances.
American Association of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas: A Case Study of the Global Female Persona who Enacts all Possibilities Contained in the Word Woman
This lecture brought to the forefront the protagonist of Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Blanche DuBois, to argue that she is the embodiment of the Global Woman whose behavior displays the multifaceted layers of her character, all at once, placing her individual liberty at odds with her immediate community. Blanche’s overt behavior, spilling out intensity, ambiguity, chaos, and disruption allows her to tune into the power of her own feminine magic, further endangering her fragile position within her social sphere. Revivals of Streetcar have always experimented with Blanche’s artistic persona, while making full use of the cultural context of their time, and the female actresses playing her role have captured Blanche’s womanly essence by heightening the rebellious spirit of their own social era. Williams’s unpublished primary manuscripts remain testimony of Blanche’s power to fascinate her readers, further highlighting her excessive demands on the playwright’s skills.
Far West Popular Culture Association, Palace Station, Las Vegas: The Starving Children of the Umbworld
The underlying theme of this collection of short fiction breaks through the surface of commonly held Western ideologies to question the History which hides behind the facade of Nature. The stories come together to ignite the fire of knowledge, experience, and the multi-faceted truth. The child is caught at the center of the storm as creator, victim, and embodiment of Western cultural myths. Molly’s voice is the voice of the child’s community, a subtle, sarcastic, and witty voice which deconstructs various cultural myths: the myth of mother, of cats, sexual ideologies and the image of the lover, criminals, the Other, concerts and dieting, dogmas and God, chaos and order, toys, established tradition, the dead ones.
Have I continued to play with the genres, the title, and even content? You bet your boots, ladies and gents. Everything experiences a continuous shift. Stories are no exception.
Far West Popular Culture Association, Palace Station, Las Vegas: Desire and Cemeteries
This novella written in descriptive dialogue format brings to the table a simple conversation between two characters, one brought alive by the smell and scent of freshly brewed lemongrass tea. These dialogues reveal Judy’s all-time realities and shifting paradigms, among which Ravi’s stream of consciousness bits weave naturally. But Ravi is not your ordinary’s literary figure. He is Chaos. He is everything from Judy’s alter ego to her Mephistopheles, from her eternal object of sexual desire to a long-forgotten, practical lover. And it is Judy’s deep-seated desire to understand Chaos which triggers these dialogues: love stories carved in hair clips, philosophical speculations, a mirroring of The Other, reflections on The Spirit, on the flesh-and-blood man, on childhood and the natural cycle.
This manuscript too has been pulled in the great and inevitable vortex of change.
Far West Popular Culture Association, Palace Station, Las Vegas: Radical Decadence in the Literary Work of Tennessee Williams
This present scholarship aims at constructing a framework of reference for Tennessee Williams’ female characters as perceived through the eyes of radical decadence. This critical feminist approach is concerned with female luxury and a rendering of the artificial, with an overconsumption of sex, foods, and drugs, with the sensual experience of the moment in which these female characters immerse themselves. This variety of decadence owns the attribute of radical since these women adopt a deliberate form of excessive living which entails not only immediate pleasures, but risks and failures as well when judged against a preset cultural norm of expected female behavior.