Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stunning



Danny Smiricky is a Czech ex-pat teaching American Literature at a Canadian college. As he lectures about Poe, Hawthorne, Twain, Fitzgerald, Conrad, and Lovecraft, he recalls life as a laborer for the Third Reich during the occupation, life as a sabateur against the Reich, life as an enthusiastic Marxist after the Reds "liberate" Czechoslovakia, life as a disillusioned Marxist, and finally his escape to the West where he finds entirely new disillusionments. Sexy, sad, and often hilarious, The Engineer of Human Souls is exquisitely crafted, and--while an "academic" novel of the first order--is as entertaining as it is challenging. I'll definitely be looking for more Skvorecky.

4 comments:

Steven Hart said...

"The Bass Saxophone." Playing jazz under two different dictatorships. Marvelous book.

geoff said...

Thanks for the rec--I definitely have to read this guy's catalog.

Have you read Hrabel?

Steven Hart said...

Hrabel? Don't know him.

geoff said...

Ooops, should be Hrabal I think. Try Too Loud a Solitude. When I bought another of his titles from Amazon their uncanny recommendation software turned me on to Skvorecky (Hrabal is mentioned in The Engineer of Human Souls as a friend of Danny's as well).