Rich in its stories, characters, and imaginative range, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is the novel that brought Milan Kundera his first big international success in the late 1970s. Like all his work, it is valuable for far more than its historical implications. In seven wonderfully integrated parts, different aspects of human existence are magnified and reduced, reordered and emphasized, newly examined, analyzed, and experienced.
©1978 Milan Kundera; translation copyright 1996, Aaron Asher (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
Brilliant in parts, but also messy and uneven. It is a twisting novel of lovers, sex, names, poets, poltiics, borders, history, memory, nations and being. It slides from one original idea into another like remote lovers in a well-lubricated orgy of ideas. I don't know if it loses me because I loved The Unbearable Lightness of Being so much more, or if Kundera just failed to grab me by the intellectual shorthairs. I'm almost positive I would probably rate it higher if I had the chance to tease out the flesh a bit more. It reads (not in specifics, just in style and tone) like someone took several Wim Wenders films and randomly spliced pieces from his oevre; sometimes backwards, sometimes upsidedown, frequently disorienting.
Actor/Writer in ATX "The Most Wonderfully Ridiculous Person" -Kristen Kurtis 93.3 KGSR
I love Milan Kundera. Love, love love.
I'll admit this book is a bit choppy, not your typical novel, a bit heady over hearty.
But that's why it's my favorite of his books, and it was great to hear life breathed into it by Richmond Hoxie.
If you liked this you'll love The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Immortality, or Farewell Waltz - some of Kundera's more approachable works.
But for me, this one is tops.
Cook, Steelworker, Sailor in Viet Nam. Retired after 4 decades as an RN. Share a birthday with Mark Twain and his love of "spinnin' a yarn"
Not a rivetting experience for me. But then I though F.Scott was a bit wishy washy because his characters were lost. Maybe that's what I feel here. If you are chasing Kundera to understand him, go ahead. It didn't make a lasting impression on me.
"There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays
3.5 stars. I'm aware this is a philosophical novel, important in criticizing the Czech communist regime then in power and, indeed, resulted in that regime's revocation of Kundera's citizenship.
Nonetheless, I cannot in good conscience give a novel 4 or 5 stars on that basis when I dislike the type of author interactivity in a work of fiction that pervades this "novel." That is to say, I have a hard time reading as a story, i.e., enjoying or being vivified by a fictional narrative in which the author repeatedly reminds me that he is making it all up, such as saying why he picked out this name or that and why he decided the character would take off her clothes in a public place or make whoopee with the protagonist or go to an island of misfit 12 year old boys, be made to disrobe then be touched repeatedly and privately as a kind of gross anti-goddess.
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