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The Book of Hrabal Paperback – September 1, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0810111998 ISBN-10: 0810111993 Edition: 1st

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The Book of Hrabal + The Lair (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) + Baba Yaga Laid an Egg
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810111993
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810111998
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,381,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Politics may make strange bedfellows, but those pairings pale beside the cast assembled here by Hungarian author Esterhazy. The odd roster includes a Hungarian writer (a nameless scribe who was "supposed to write about [the real Czech writer Bohumil] Hrabal"); his wife, Anna, who has an ongoing internal conversation with Hrabal; their unborn child, whom Anna wants to abort; their live children (who play minor roles); two angels disguised as secret policemen, who watch the house and whose mission is to prevent the abortion; and-last but hardly least-God himself, who instructs the angels, takes saxophone lessons from Charlie Parker, ponders philosophy and bickers with his nagging mother. Given this uncommon assemblage, it is perhaps not surprising that the resultant work proves often confusing-in large part because Esterhazy shifts perspective at will and without warning. Still, flashes of wit and tongue-in-cheek aphorisms frequently enliven the convoluted proceedings. Though this discursive yarn will not strike all readers' fancies, those with a fondness for mittel-European whimsy may well be charmed.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Anna is a Hungarian housewife and mother of three who finds herself pregnant and wanting an abortion. Her husband is a writer whose current subject is the Czech author Bohumil Hrabal. Anna's reflections on her condition, her country's condition, her family, and her marriage are addressed to Hrabal, who becomes Anna's confidant. God is also a player in this freely associative novel, for He sends two angels, disguised as secret police, to watch over Anna and prevent her from aborting the child. Toward the end, with the outcome in doubt, God takes saxophone lessons from Charlie Parker in an attempt to woo the blues-loving Anna into keeping the baby. Difficult, complex, and fascinating, this 16th novel from Hungarian playwright and essayist Esterhazy will appeal to serious readers of literature.
Ruth M. Ross, Olympic Coll. Lib., Bremerton, Wash.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
First off, Esterhazy is obviously not Hrabal the Storyteller, nor is he intending to be a Hrabal the Storyteller. In fact, he writes of a frustrated, blocked writer who is miserably *failing* to write a book celebrating Hrabal. It's a cosmic joke on mimicry; a book that ends with a jazz-loving God picking up a saxophone for the first time and letting out a horrific blurt of a note that resounds across the world.
Throughout Esterhazy's characteristically chaotic mono/dia/tria/etc.logues there are lovely, alchemic moments: "you probably know what a Hungarian sentence is like...with not a structure in sight, or a decent relative pronoun, the words all lumped together, and yet...A Hungarian sentence is this `and yet'. You have to start from scratch every time. It's as little civilized as the heart." Here, to generalize, you have a summary description of Esterhazy's own prose.
Another shining verbal moment:
"Masturbation which -- though it may never get you anywhere, nevertheless creates a universal space-time, the genesis of all creation; it is not rhythm, but throbbing!" E. loves to take the bodily(uncouth by Western standards) and mix it in with some dabs of theory. And honestly, reading *The Book of Hrabal* is *throbbing*. Largely due to my accidental run-in with this book I, a woman of no Eastern European descent, am currently learning Hungarian and pursuing graduate studies in Hungarian Literature. That should speak for itself.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This was the second of Esterhazy's books I read- the first being "A little Hungarian Pornography. (KMP)" I approached this book with great interest, not because I liked KMP but because Hrabal is one of my favorite writers. I am unclear how Esterhazy intends this as a homage to him.
Esterhazy's style is curt and doesn't flow. It appears he is trying to do some James Joyce/Jose Saramago thing, but badly- which is pretty much par for the course as his other books are written in the same style.
This is especially ironic, as Bohumil Hrabal is above all a storyteller. Hrabal's style and content are as different from Esterhazy as moon from sun. My greatest concern with the book (which I find merely annoying), and in fact the reason I am writing this review, is that I would find it a great tragedy if anyone steered celar of Hrabal after reading this pathetic attempt to cop some glory off of his name. Scrap this book and get a copy of "I served the King of England" or "Ostre Stredovany Vlaky."
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