Preskoči na glavni sadržaj

Michal Viewegh: Bringing up girls in Bohemia ( Odgoj djevojaka u Češkoj).



This is my second novel  by Michal Viewegh. The first one was Biowife ( that is how I assume it will be translated in English eventually but the original title in Czech is Biomanželka)  and I will review that one some other time. I must admit that I actually liked Biomanželka better. Oh, no! This is not going to motivate you to read this review, is it?

 Well, I hope it won’t set you off because I do have some things to say about this novel. The fact that I prefer another of his works doesn't mean I didn't like Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia. Not at all. This novel is brilliantly written. It is also full of sophisticated humour this writer is known for. Moreover, it explains the frustrations of the writing process in an ingenious way. I do think writers will relate to this one.

It is a novel that is just as much about the process of writing as it is about the characters in it. There is something so honest about the way Michal writes. Just a few words on the author himself. Michal Viewegh is a bestselling Czech writer. He also happens to be one of the most popular Czech writers at the moment. Not without reason for he has talent. Nobody can deny him that.

Let's back straight to the point. What is it that I didn't like about this novel? Well, it is quite simple. It did not move me on a personal level. I can admire it only as a work of literature. It definitely is a work of literature; it is not just any book. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I admire it both on intellectual and on philosophical level, but I (personally) found it hard to relate to it on a more personal level. The reason for that I believe lies in the way the story is written.

The concept of this book is fantastic. The way it examines the connection between writing and literature is captivating. However, Beate in one sense becomes a tool and that is when she stops feeling like a real person. What makes this story so intellectually interesting is paradoxically what robs one of its most important characters from its humanity. I wonder if the writer saw this coming. He must have had. Perhaps Beate is sacrificed so that this novel could have its sophisticated narrative and structure? I can see why he needed to do that, but I can't say I like it.

You see, I've grown rather attached to Beate. I don't like the way she is used. I don't like what happens to her. So, maybe I did relate to her on a more personal level? I did. And then she slipped. It is like losing contact with a friend. It pissed me off. Does her ending make sense in the context of the novel? I don't think it does. I think this character is just as much a tool for the writer of this novel as she is for the protagonist of this novel. Now, the problem with turning one of central characters into just a tool is the loss of credibility for the novel. So, my feelings are totally mixed about this one.


Would I recommend reading this novel? Yes, I would. It is a very good novel. For me it wasn't a life changing one, but there is no doubt that it has its literary merits.

Popularni postovi s ovog bloga

The Lagoon, a short story by Joseph Conrad (book review and recommendation)

Published in 1987, this story is one of the shortest works by Joseph Conrad. Like many of Conrad's other works, The Lagoon is a framed narrative. Before I continue this review, and explain what the book is about, there is something I need to comment on. Most publishers and sites I've come across describe Lagoon as a story about a white man called Tuan, but I personally can't agree with that description. 
This short story doesopen up with a white man, but the story is really, for most part, about the man's Malaysian friend Arsat. Perhaps the most accurate thing to say is that the story is about both of them.  Another thing worth noting is that we never do learn the name of the white man. Tuan is just a word that means 'sir' in the native language of the inhabitans. When other characters address the narrator as Tuan, they are calling him 'mister' or 'sir'.




The opening lines of The Lagoon are quite descriptive, not only setting the tone but introduc…

All the King's Men,a novel by Robert Penn Warren ( Book Review and Recommendation)

THE DARING INTRODUCTION THAT REVEALS A BRILLIANT WRITING TALENT
All the King’s Men opens sharply, throwing the reader into the midst of things. Jack Burden, a young ex-reporter/ writer, a guy who walked out on his PhD, finds himself in the service of Willie, a raising political force. Willie, whose background doesn’t promise a successful politician, but who is ready to fight against the odds. Jack is there by Willie’s side, not because of the money, not because of the power, not because of anything like that. Why is Jack there? Jack isn’t sure himself. It is a complex question, one that keeps popping through the novel, one that gets answered many times and yet remains open to interpretations. Willie, who is commonly called the boss, says that it is because it is in Jack’s nature? Is it so? But what kind of nature are we talking about?
THE NARRATOR OF THE STORY IS OFTEN THE FORCE BEHIND THE EVENTS
Jack Burden is, true to his surname, a burdened man. Burdened with both his and his future p…

Invisible cities by Italo Calvino (book review and recommendation)

Invisible Cities is a novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino. Originally published in  1972, this novel remains popular with modern readers. Before I get to the review, I have a confession to make. I'm actually using a few photographs from another book (written in Italian) because I have listened to an audio version of this book. I could find and repost a photograph of this book, but what would be the point? I prefer to use my own book photography, because it feels more authentic.





I listened to an audio version of this book twice (which technically puts it into a 'reread' category), for two days in a row, while I was working on a new painting. The painting turned out pretty much perfect, should I thank Calvino for that? I'm not kidding, perhaps the beauty of his prose really helped (or somehow improved) my painting process. It is not such a far fetched idea as it might seem at first. The first time I listened to this book, I was mostly focused on the form that is to say…