Look at the Latin title. Translated it means 'Remember you must die'. This is the telephone message delivered to a group of elderly upper-class BritsLook at the Latin title. Translated it means 'Remember you must die'. This is the telephone message delivered to a group of elderly upper-class Brits in the 1950s. Dame Lettie Colston was the first to be targeted. Soon many of Lettie's acquaintances had received the same call. The person or persons calling is sometimes said to be young, sometimes old and was identified by one as a woman. "Who is the caller?" is the mystery of the story.
It disappointed me (view spoiler)[that the caller is never identified. A police investigation concludes that the calls never occurred but were simply imaginings of senile, doddering old folk. As the calls are described this just does not seem feasible (hide spoiler)]. Somehow the author just hasn't made this alternative credible, and thus the end disappointed me.
The theme of the book is the message stated in the title. More specifically one should 'Remember you must die while you live'. This being the case, I think the novel would have been better had the message been delivered to not just the elderly.
Character portrayal is not the focus of the book. The message is the focus. There are too many characters and their interrelationships become confusing. Most often as one nears the end of a book a few central characters stand out. This doesn't happen here. This is another reason why the ending just sort of fizzled for me. You understand the message long before, and since what happens to each character doesn't matter, because you are not emotionally tied to them, the reader gets bored by the detailed documentation of each character’s fate, i.e. death, with which the book concludes.
What I did like about the book is its humor. Maybe one has to be coming up in years to recognize how we become as we age. The book gives you the opportunity to laugh at yourself. The chilling description of life in elderly homecare facilities gives a sobering balance.
The narration by Eve Karpf was very well done. Easy to follow and read at a perfect speed.
OK, I didn’t absolutely love this, but I do adore Spark’s humor. I appreciate that each one of her books have a different theme, even if most of them do seem to hold a mystery, contain a murder or two and are written with humor. Which of her books will I try next? I am not stopping here.
I began with Silas House's A Parchment of Leaves because it had won prizes for Southern writing: *Winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003 *WinneI began with Silas House's A Parchment of Leaves because it had won prizes for Southern writing: *Winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003 *Winner of the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers *Nominee of the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize *Nominee of the Book Sense Book of the Year Longlist It had a strong impact on me. My overall impression was that it was beautiful. The writing was gorgeous and at the same time simple and expressive. It wonderfully captures the essence of the rural South, the land and the people. The same is true here. This contemporary author is talented.
I have given the first book five stars, this book three and will soon be reading The Coal Tattoo. The past lives of two of the central characters in Clay's Quilt are explored in The Coal Tattoo. Nevertheless, the three books are stand-alones.
Clay's Quilt draws life in southern Appalachia, a small mining village in Kentucky. Most of the events roll out in the 1980s. Clay is the central character. In 1974, his mother, Anneth, dies. He is only four, and thus the circumstances around her death are blurry. We come to understand past events and observe how he comes to find his own place in the village. Much is about a person’s sense of home. This theme does not fit me well since I have lived in many different places and appreciate having done so. I found Clay’s personal life story to be unremarkable. This explains why I gave the book only three stars even though I found the descriptive writing exceptional.
I enjoyed getting a glimpse of Southern rural life. Pentecostal beliefs, superstitions, traditions tied to marriage, birth and death as well as contemporary issues concerning drugs, physical abuse and excessive drinking all play in. There is sadness and there is joy and love and hate.
The narrator of the audiobook is Tom Stechschulte. I could easily follow the story and the southern dialect comes across well, but I felt he over-dramatized the written lines....more
The story is about the marriage of a Cherokee woman and a white Southerner, but that is just the beginning. The husband’s brotThis book is beautiful.
The story is about the marriage of a Cherokee woman and a white Southerner, but that is just the beginning. The husband’s brother falls in love with her too. It is about love relationships between man and wife and deep friendship between women, coming to care for another and doing what is right. What if laws do not protect you, what do you do then?
The story happens before and up to the conclusion of the First World War. The setting is Appalachia, the Kentucky hinterland.
The Southern writing spoke to me. Beautiful, simple and expressive. The spoken words are not grammatically correct, but neither should they be.
The characters came alive for me. Each character’s essence is evoked both through actions and words. The women spoke to me, each in their own way. Each became a separate identity. Character portrayal is a strong element of this book!
Religious beliefs and traditions are seen through Southerners’ own eyes. Beautifully drawn but without a hint of proselytism.
The plot grabbed me and never let go. It got me thinking. What would I do if I were in that predicament? One reflects upon if one should keep silent or if one should speak out the truth.
I loved how the story ended. It is beautiful, but it isn’t corny. It is well drawn and care is taken to make it believable.
The narration by Kate Forbes is totally fantastic. You simply cannot adjust speeds on your Iphone to achieve perfect tempo; it is only through a talented narrator who knows when to pause and when to rush ahead that the ideal tempo is attained. Forbes masters this. Her southern dialect is never hard to understand and adds to one’s appreciation of the author’s lines.
Gorgeous lines and gorgeous narration. Southern culture drawn with finesse. Quite simply a lovely and engaging story.
That this book has won numerous prizes doesn’t surprise me in the least: *Winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, 2003 *Winner of the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers *Nominee of the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize *Nominee of the Book Sense Book of the Year Longlist I will be picking up more books by Silas House very, very soon....more
This is a beautifully and dramatically told story. Shelley's prose is fantastic. I thought, "Wow, that is just so perfectly captured, beautifully writThis is a beautifully and dramatically told story. Shelley's prose is fantastic. I thought, "Wow, that is just so perfectly captured, beautifully written, impeccably described." I particularly adored her description of landscapes - the towering Alps, the majestic Jura Mountains, the verdant, lush countryside around Oxford, Scottish moors, the riverbanks of the Rhine, even the Orkney Islands! She captures the beauty of a summer day, the drama of a threatening storm and the silence and cold and stillness of polar regions. She expresses anger and despair and utter loneliness movingly. I simply cannot give a book with such wonderful prose anything less than three stars.
Keep in mind I do not usually read science fiction.
Everyone knows that in Frankenstein a monster is created. Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss natural scientist of the late 1700s, has figured out how to turn inanimate objects into living creatures, creatures that feel and think. This is the given you just have to accept. How this is done is not detailed. The focus of the book is instead how people react to the creature. He is frighteningly ugly. What we are delivered is a commentary on human behavior.
If we assume that what we are told is true, this creature shares with us human emotions. His emotions and the emotions of his creator are the fulcrum of the tale. That this is an imaginary creature is not really the point, except perhaps as a cautionary tale. How would you feel if your kindness, help and benevolence toward others were always repaid with disgust, fear and hatred? Would you calmly accept that you were rebuffed, disregarded and frozen out? Wouldn't you get mad? Wouldn't you feel unjustly treated? Were your own life devoid of all happiness and one of complete isolation, wouldn't you be infuriated at and envious of those who have more? Might you not seek revenge? This book is about how people treat each other and so of course the monster too.
Ambition is another theme. Take care that you don't push ambition too far and think twice about that which you create! I found the lesson imparted obvious.
The one character I could relate to was the monster!
I like credibility. Victor Frankenstein can scarcely be viewed as credible in his role as a scientist There is a sea captain, and he is not credible either. Sea captains are made of tougher stuff than the one drawn here!
I don't go for pushing something to the extreme; you push anything too far and it loses all credibility. The book does this. The number who die in this book are many.
Maybe my real problem with this book is that the messages imparted are not new.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Dan Stevens. This audiobook follows the author's first writing of the story, the 1818 edition. Audible offers the 1831 edition too; that one is narrated by Derek Jacobi. So, one is free to choose. The 1818 edition begins with a quote from John Milton's Paradise Lost: Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay To mould me man? Did I solicit thee From darkness to promote me? This says a lot; it is a perfect beginning to the story. The quote is removed from the 1831 edition. I appreciated how the volumes and chapters are organized in the 1818 edition; the presentation of stories within stories is cleverly done. The 1831 edition has a preface detailing how the story came to be, but that can be found on Wiki.
At the start, I liked the narration; in the beginning it is not overly grim. Later we are given two first person narratives. We hear of the events both from the monster's and his creator's point of view. Both are extremely distressed; they are dejected, melancholic and full of despair. This makes the story terribly depressing to listen to.... hour after hour. Such gloom! We are delivered accurate presentations of the characters’ moods, but I prefer less dramatization. Most eat up such narrations, so you can just ignore my view.
What is special about this novel is the author’s ability to make the most despicable of characters interesting. The reader is jogged into another worlWhat is special about this novel is the author’s ability to make the most despicable of characters interesting. The reader is jogged into another world. There are two central characters – Anthony and Gloria. I never came close to feeling even the slightest pinch of empathy for either. Their values are opposite to my own. I sat and watched, fixated, glued to the end, but not for a second thinking that either my views or theirs would change. It is like watching a train crash.
So why did I watch? I watched because Fitzgerald, through his words, has the ability to capture an era, a group of people and places as through a movie camera. We observe millions of small thing each perfectly portrayed - light slanting through blinds, nasty arguments, NYC on a hot summer night, cocktail parties with insipid, meaningless chatter. The reader recognizes a world that does exist. I liked this realism and it is this that drew me to the book. It is the author’s writing that I like.
At the same time, the writing is definitely patchy. There are sections that are a total bore. The beginning is horrible. It took me quite a while before I knew I would not abandon the book.
Anthony is lazy, self-centered and shallow. Gloria she is lazy, self-centered and shallow too. Anthony does not want a vocation; he can’t possibly think of anything he wants to do. No goals and no aspirations, except maybe having a beautiful wife by his side, alcohol in unlimited quantity and being entertained by others. Gloria, for her beauty is everything. Her guiding principle is to never do anything for another. You don’t give a damn about me and I don’t give a damn about you – that is her life philosophy in a nutshell. The two are married. They are waiting for an inheritance from Anthony’s grandfather. An inheritance that will give them millions and insure that they need never work or do anything that doesn’t please them. And if that dream comes true, what then?
There is humor to be found in the lines. It is cynical. It is full of irony. Intellectualism is scoffed at. Here follow some examples: -They were in love with generalities. -Happiness is only the first seconds after the alleviation of misery. -I don’t care about truth; I want happiness. -I don’t want to spend money in driblets. -His imagination was almost incapable of sustaining a dialog. -Everyone had something to talk about and they all enjoyed it. (This was about war.)
Not all of the humor is serious though. Try this: -10 o’clock bumped stuffily into 11. What I am saying again, in just another way, is that the writing has a style of its own and it is special.
Just so you are warned - the book is a product of its own time. It was published in 1922 and draws the era before and after the First World War. It has racist lines. What is assumed and taken for granted then does not represent how we think today. Well, for most of us.
The audiobook is narrated by William Dufris. He turns this into a theatre production. I would have preferred a simple reading of the lines. He dramatizes; he interprets the text for you. I’d rather think for myself. (My trick for getting around this is to repeat the lines in my head, thereby squashing the narrator’s exasperating intonations.) I have to admit though, that at times he did have me laughing. I kind of got used to the narration; while at the beginning it drove me nuts, by the end I was desensitized.
So what am I thinking as I complete the book? You simply cannot change people! Is that what Fitzgerald wanted to say? I have read that the book is based on his life with Zelda. Is he observing and recording? The book certainly has something to say about work and life goals, but this message is so obvious there has to be more.
This book did not fit ME! My rating is not a judgment of the book; it shows only how I personally reacted to the author’s lines. The majority of the bThis book did not fit ME! My rating is not a judgment of the book; it shows only how I personally reacted to the author’s lines. The majority of the book I did not like, thus I can only give it one star.
I did appreciate the author’s description of places - sites on the fringe of San Francisco and the dessert environs of Death Valley, California. The setting is predominantly Polk Street, San Francisco, at the turn of the 20th century.
Am I glad I read the book? Actually, I would say yes. Why? To have experienced those descriptive lines. To test another author of the naturalist school of writing. One clearly sees similarities with Theodore Dreiser, another author of this school.
Naturalism is a literary movement that emphasizes observation and the scientific method in the fictional portrayal of reality. Novelists writing in the naturalist mode include Émile Zola (its founder), ThomasHardy, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, and Frank Norris. (Source: Wiki)
So what gave me trouble? The dialogs. While they may accurately depict how people speak to each other, reading such can be extremely tedious and boring. Phrases are repeated over and over again, first as a question, then an answer followed by a person’s confirmation, another’s reconfirmation and then maybe the question gets posed all over again! On and on and on with the exact same words! A lengthy paragraph may be devoted to two people saying goodbye! This may be accurate, but it is pushed too far in the dialogs of this book. Not once and not by just one character, but by all of the characters over and over again. This drove me bonkers. Writing in this manner makes the characters sound stupid, but are all of them stupid?! That is what went through my head. Well, perhaps; the author is clearly critical of how people behave…. which leads to the next problem I had with the book.
The central theme of this novel is avarice, but don’t all of us see avarice with distaste? And don’t we all know this even before picking up the book? Norris’ message is loud and clear. Too loud and too pushed to the extreme. Money is hoarded. Money is gloated over, killed for and what people do to collect it, pile upon pile, is drawn to an extreme. The story loses touch with reality. What the author wants to say with the book becomes a rant, a lesson pounded into our heads. What unrolls is absurd. In reading the book we obligingly let ourselves be bashed over the head with the author’s message concerning the evils of greed. The climax at the end is metaphorically a clash of cymbals.*
The characters did NOT pull me in. They become too absurd to be taken seriously. There is a love affair that sours. The characters are merely the means by which the author delivers his message, his resounding warning against avarice and greed.
There is an anti-Semitic sentiment to be found in the author’s lines.
I downloaded this free of cost at at Librivox. It is accessible here: https://librivox.org/author/842?prima... It is fantastic that the site does exist! I recommend using the Librivox app. Without the app maneuvering within the audiobook becomes difficult.
This Librivox recording is read by Jeff Robinson. The speed varies. The reading is uneven. Parts are fantastic, other portions less so. The end was very well read, but I cannot disregard some of the earlier sections. I disliked the cinematically rendered intonations for the immigrants of Swiss / German origin that speak in this book. These immigrants do have a dialect and they do use incorrect words. I am fine with added dialect touches as long as I can decipher the author’s words. In parts I couldn’t. I will rate the narration with three stars and I will in the future choose other Librivox recordings performed by him. Overall he does a good job.
**************** *So you wonder why I call the ending a clash of cymbals? Here is why, but it is a BIG spoiler: (view spoiler)[ McTeague is out in the Death Valley dessert with the money he has stolen from his wife, after killing her. His arch enemy turns up!The mule is running off with the money on his back! So they must shoot him, but splinter also the water canteen. The mule is the only way the two can get out of the dessert and now they have no water! THEN McTeague fights with his enemy and shoots him, but before he dies the enemy puts handcuffs both on himself and McTeague. They will die together. (hide spoiler)]My God what an ending. See what I mean about a clash of cymbals?...more
This is a book about family, and thus it is a book each of us can relate to. Familial circumstances vary, but how family members interact with each otThis is a book about family, and thus it is a book each of us can relate to. Familial circumstances vary, but how family members interact with each other is something we all deal with in our lives. Reading the book one compares one’s own personal experiences and choices to those made by Quindlen's characters. One compares how you felt yourself and how the characters feel. One considers what is said and what is left unspoken. To what extent do we lay bare differences of opinion and pursue solutions acceptable to the parts involved and to what extent do we shove a dispute under the mat, pretending that it never occurred? Some people need to discuss all. Others attempt to accept what has happened, try to forgive, forget and just go on. Details of that which occurs in each family will differ, but we all deal with comparable problems and must decide how to handle our emotions and what our actions will be.
There is a dam that was improperly constructed and now this has to be fixed. The focus is less on dam construction and alternative ways of fixing the problem than on how the people affected respond to what inevitably lies ahead. We know what those changes will be; an area will be flooded and turned into a recreational park with a lake and boating facilities. In this novel we zero in on what happened in one of the families living in the area to be flooded. We look at some other families too, but with much less depth. The focus is on one family and is actually less about the decision to flood the land than about internal family issues - a wayward son, school or marriage, choice of vocation, eccentric relatives.
We are told the story after the fact, so we know the outcome. I suppose it is for this reason that there is little discussion of opposition and better alternative solutions. There was so little fight! For me this should have been a larger part of the story.
Quindlen makes her characters real. You will recognize yourself and others. One reads this book for character portrayal. What I really, really like is the author’s ability to understand people. From this she draws realistic dialogs. She puts thoughts into words. I kept thinking that I would never be able to express those ideas better than that! Yeah, I like the lines. The lines show that the author understands what makes people tick. She does this better with the female characters than the male ones though. She sees from a female perspective. She gives the female characters more depth.
A central point of this book is the attachment you have for the place where you grew up. Only later in your life might you come to fully understand events that lay under the surface, events that had been hidden for years. At the end a final revelation is thrown at the reader.
The audiobook is very well narrated by Brittany Pressley. Expressive narration and easy to follow. Clear. A good tempo. You think the lines as if they were there in your own head. You feel as though you are in the room where a dialog is taking place.
I am trying to make clear that this book is less about environmental issues than family dynamics....more
This novel, Carson McCullers's second, first came out serialized in Harper's Bazaar in 1940. The following year it was published as a book. She wroteThis novel, Carson McCullers's second, first came out serialized in Harper's Bazaar in 1940. The following year it was published as a book. She wrote it in 1939, originally entitled Army Post. The idea for the book grew from both a visit she had made as an adolescent to Fort Benning in Georgia and then later her husband's mention of a peeking Tom incident at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I assume you know what a peeping Tom is.
The story is laid up as a mystery. You are told at the beginning that it concerns two officers, two women, a soldier, a Filipino and a horse and that there will be a murder! You cannot help but be curious. The characters are strange and you cannot help but wonder how the elements fit together. There isn't a possibility of guessing what will happen. I was surprised at how the characters and what they did ended up making complete sense. What was strange to me in the beginning made complete sense! What this says to me is that if we don't understand people, it is simply because we lack adequate information. For me this is a mystery because you want to figure out what has happened and why and how the people are as they are.
It is through McCullers talented writing that you become curious. The writing is sensual and tantalizing. It is important to note that McCullers herself was bisexual and here she is writing about homosexuality. She writes well of the pull, the physical attraction between people, and how you might act if how you feel is not acceptable. The writing is not graphic. She was ahead of her time, not that that influences my rating. My rating is purely personal.
The audiobook I listened to is narrated by Christopher Kipiniak. I understood him, but I disliked his dramatization. I do not think his intonations fit the characters speaking. I will give the narration two stars; it is just OK.
I like the book. It kept my attention. Details and lines are thrown in that had me thinking. Why did the author put in that? Why did she express herself in that way? What is she trying to have us think? There is a conversation between two men, discussing whether if you are a square peg should you try to shove yourself into a round hole or should you look for a square hole? The men disagree. This says a lot about the two men....more
Do NOT be as stupid as me. Don’t pick a book by its cover. Particularly when the cover does not accurately portray what the book will give you. I wantDo NOT be as stupid as me. Don’t pick a book by its cover. Particularly when the cover does not accurately portray what the book will give you. I wanted to re-test John Cheever and the cover drew my attention. Big mistake!
The primary focus of this novel is sexuality. The author was bisexual, so I have full understanding that one’s sexual identity was a topic of particular interest to him. Halfway through the book, not yet understanding that ambivalent feelings about one's sexual identity is in fact the book's central focus, I exploded, saying '"For God's sake, doesn't a person instinctively know when sex is good?" I am quite simply the wrong reader for this book. It should be noted, the book looks at men’s rather than women’s bisexuality.
I thought the book was about living near the sea or about appreciation of aquatic surroundings or about a fisherman's life or something to do with the sea! Look at the cover! We are told in the book’s description that this is to be a family chronicle of the Wapshots living in St. Botolphs, a "quintessential Massachusetts fishing village". We are told there will be stories of Captain Leander Wapshot, a venerable sea dog, but this is only where the story begins. The chapters flip between Captain Wapshot's journal entries about his youth (written in staccato, abbreviated, incomplete sentences) and the coming-of-age experiences of his two sons. What is often a central ingredient of coming-of-age stories? Well of course, sex. Here the author’s own bisexual leaning influences the telling. The youngest son, Coverly, is sixteen when the story begins. The older, Moses, is in college. We follow the father and these two sons until they are married and have their own children. There is a question of inheritance. (view spoiler)[Leander’s eccentric aunt Honora has willed her money to Moses and Coverly, but only if they have children. It is she who has the money in the family. (hide spoiler)] The two sons flee the village, one to NYC and the other to San Francisco and then as far afield as islands in the Pacific. So just forget that cover!
A secondary theme is estrangement; you feel this in each character’s loneliness, separateness and inability to relate to others. (Sex is often the Band-Aid stuck on a wound! Or a do-it-all pill to remedy unease.) We readers observe at a distance, just as the novel’s characters seem incapable of reaching out to each other. The result is an overall sadness and despondency.
Finally there is a message that what is important in life are “the ordinary things”. This is delivered by Leander in what he writes to his sons.
There are some beautiful lines. There is ironic, satirical humor. If you pay close attention, you come to realize that the author is in fact quite often joking with us. Well at least, that is my interpretation.
The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Joe Barrett. It is easy to follow, so the narration is good. One hears a melancholy that I think should be there. It expresses an inability to properly communicate.
Maybe this sounds like I liked the book? Well I didn’t. It didn’t give me at all what I was looking for. It was boring to listen to the stupid things the characters did. I simply couldn’t relate. Sex is portrayed in a fashion that put me off. The sex isn’t graphic; it just left me cold. Should sex leave you cold?! Both the cover and the book description led me astray. The central failure of the book is that the author failed to make it possible for me to empathize with the characters' ambivalent feelings. ...more
Another book I would not classify as belonging to the young adult genre. Sure, teenagers can read this but so can adults. Should one classify all bookAnother book I would not classify as belonging to the young adult genre. Sure, teenagers can read this but so can adults. Should one classify all books about young adults as YA books? My answer is no. Furthermore, in this book the focus is not merely on the young ones but the adults too.
Three central components of all novels are: 1. The language, the dialog, the words used. 2. The story told, i.e. the plot. 3. How all the different parts are drawn together, the novel’s construction. In this book it is the language that drew me in most, which made every minute spent reading truly enjoyable. I was either smiling or chuckling or thinking. Just great lines! Then at the end I had my ear strained toward the loudspeaker intensely curious to see if what was happening really could be true! Now it was the plot that drew me. Sitting back, digesting what had happened, I marveled at how the author had forewarned me, but I had not taken note. Why? Because I had been so involved in the telling. I marveled at how perfectly the threads had been pulled together. Fiction of this quality is remarkable.
Great humor. Subtle humor about the pains of growing up, of becoming an adult, of figuring out what kind of life you choose to live. And boys and sex and acceptance of one’s own body. I believe very few adolescents think they live up to even the norm. Total failure is what most feel.
Some really good characters. Personally I loved Paula. I understood Marigold, or let’s just call her Bilgewater as everyone does here. She is seventeen. Her mom died at her birth. Her father is a housemaster at a boys boarding school near Middlesbrough, England. Her father and his cronies will make you smile. Jeez, you have to meet each one. Each one is special and none are flawless.
The audiobook narration was almost perfect. I was about to give it five stars but I felt the ending when everything was happening at a lickety-split I had to backtrack and re-listen several times. I absolutely adored Bentinck’s intonations for the old men, for Paula, for Grace. Wait till you meet Grace! You knew exactly who was speaking without being told. Really, I whole-heartedly emphasize that this is a book to be listened to rather than read, but you must choose the narration by Anna Bentinck! It is truly marvelous.
You know when I immediately choose to add another book by the author to my wish-list that I am impressed. I have to read more by the author soon. The next will be Crusoe's Daughter.
I finished this book wondering if I had understood correctly what the author was trying to say. I have all sorts of ideas, but they don't hold togetheI finished this book wondering if I had understood correctly what the author was trying to say. I have all sorts of ideas, but they don't hold together into one cohesive message. If I don’t understand the book, how can I give it more stars?
The pluses are that the book keeps you thinking, it has sentences that cleverly hint at philosophical messages and lots of amusing lines. The humor is satirical irony.
The sentence in the GR book review stating that this novel is, “an ironic story epic that humorously tenderly erodes sacrosanct values: childhood, motherhood, revolution, and even poetry” is an almost perfect description of this book! I have replaced the word “epic” with “story” and “tenderly” with “humorously”. Little is sacrosanct in this book. Not politics. Certainly not sex. Kundera’s books always contain a heavy dose of eroticism.
So how does the story unroll and what does the book deal with? First and foremost, the relationship between an adolescent son and his doting mother. He is tied to his mother's very short apron strings. I cannot imagine any reader liking any of the characters. The plot jumps around; it is meant to confound; it is meant to be confusing. It is meant to keep you thinking. It is not the steps of the story we are to follow but rather the underlying philosophical messages we are meant to think about. The author himself interrupts the events and speaks directly to the readers explaining why he has chosen to flip to another episode. The setting is Prague at the end of the forties and early fifties.
Maybe we are not supposed to draw any deep conclusion. Maybe we are simply to laugh. Laugh at society? Laugh at ourselves? What I kept thinking about was how the son never said anything original; he spoke only clever lines that someone else had said or expressed views that one should say. When what one should say changed, what he said changed too.
The book was written by the author in 1969 in Czech. Then it was translated into French. In 1985 the French translation was revised by the author in an attempt to better correspond to the original. An English translation from the revised French translation was done by Aaron Asher. This was done in close cooperation with the author to insure that no new distortion should occur.
I enjoyed the audiobook narration by Richmond Roxie.