- Paperback: 204 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books (July 23, 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156585855
- ISBN-13: 978-0156585859
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 39 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #393,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Memoirs Found in a Bathtub
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Text: English, Polish (translation)
About the Author
Top customer reviews
The narrator tells us about his final assignment, one that was so secret that his superiors couldn’t even tell him what it was. When he finally does get some written guidance, it’s stolen. Throughout the story, the author is shifting through various departments of this complex trying to figure out what is going on and with little initial success. At first he’s trying to figure out what his mission is, but later he’s just trying to figure out what’s real and meaningful--and if those concepts retain any usefulness. Along the way, odd and spectacular events occur that leave him thinking he’s being framed. He doesn’t know if he’s in a test, in the middle of a conspiracy, or amid a collection of lunatics.
There are sections that read quite like a “Monty Python” sketch, and the absurdist humor is sometimes like that of Douglas Adams--though more sparing and dark. There’s a scene featuring an officer who tries to talk the narrator into confessing, and I could only picture said officer in my mind as Eric Idle. Among the absurdist elements is the explanation of office operations. We are told that command was unable to deal with accurately and swiftly circulating memos because of the volume, and so they took to a random system in which paperwork was indiscriminately circulated until it happened upon the correct desk. There’s an officer who begins to chew and swallow envelops to prevent information from falling into the wrong hands. One of the best examples of absurdist humor is a conversation with a cryptologist who suggests that everything is a code and, ignoring messages that seem to be of military value and that are not coded, takes to using a machine to “decipher” random literature into nonsensical messages.
Nothing is as it seems in this book, and the humor derives from the narrator being the only individual who insists on the world making sense. If you’ve ever been in a position where you had to interact regularly with a bureaucracy, you’ll understand the value of laughing at such humor to avoid weeping. Much of the humor comes from the desire to keep things secret while trying to know everything there is. The narrator keeps finding not-so-subtle fly-shaped spy devices on his coffee saucer. There are blatant lies about behavior that takes place right before the narrator’s eyes. When he’s institutionalized, it turns out that the other inmates are not at all who they seem to be either.
If Stanislaw Lem is not an author familiar to you (he’s a Polish writer who died in 2006), this is a good work to cut your teeth on. It’s not one of his most well-known pieces, but it’s humorous and easier to follow than “Solaris.” Fans of Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Heinlein are also likely to enjoy this book. I recommend it.
I won't repeat what other have said but this story is a maze. It is not your straight point A to point B, and I found that most enjoyable. I found the story to apply just as much today as when it was written and it could be taken so many different ways!
Is it a statement on all political systems that end up chasing their tails? Probably, but it could also be a statement on humanity. We think we know so much but do we really know anything?
I could see where people who want answers or a 'clean' story wouldn't like this work, but I don't think the author was going for that kind of novel. As a matter of fact, I think he was going in the opposite direction. We walk through life, perhaps, seldom knowing where we are going but affecting change, though accidentally, all the time, or maybe we think we change things but really don't. It is that kind of book.
Being half way through a Rhetoric and Comp Masters, this book would fit in with greats; Kenneth Burke, Heidegger, etc, and yet it is science fiction. Who knew.
There are a few grammatical errors in the kindle addition; however, I never hold that against an author or the work. The copy editors are responsible for that and the story shouldn't be based on third-party work. The errors don't interfer with the reading as the correct word isn't hard to know.
I would give this book a higher review if not for the numerous OCR issues - it appears not to have been proofread at all. There are what appear to be page numbers stuck onto the ends of words and many places where "I'd" is rendered as Td. At first I thought some of the typos might be intentional, since most of the book is said to come from an ancient manuscript, but as I read along it became more and more apparent that it was just bad OCR.
This book will leave you thinking, wondering, questioning; as lost as the wise and foolish protagonist, mighty and uninitiated.
It is about that which is everything, so hidden it is nothing. "There is a light so strenuous that it is not perceived as light." Ah, but now I've said too much, I am sure its agents are after me.
Read at your own risk. The prologue alone is worth the effort, somewhat in the spirit of the anthropological study of the Nacerima.
It should be required reading for all Erisians.