It feels like, as reviewers remarked, Clockwork Orange (in its vocative mood, its frequent addresses to its audience, and in its linguistic/philosophical-theological, and urban melanges) meets Trainspotting (drugs galore, incoherence, muddly plotline, and dialects beyond counting). You'll lost track of who's who and what's what, but this may be intentional on Topol's part as he recreates the world of illusions, or my difficulty with a rather alien Central European host of allusions. Sheer love of storytelling doggedly pushes you on. Topol creates his own original novel, and the strange beauty mixed in with endless goings-on that stretch over 500 closely printed pages lull you into an hypnotic state of altered consciousness when you plow on through this daunting text.
Keep going, give in to the flow, and the book will take you in if you're patient. Alex Zucker's introductory notes help non-Czechs gain a rough background for what we can expect, and the fact that the prose moves so well, so densely, and so vividly attests to his and Topol's considerable skills. I predict even better work from their future collaborations. Although it's a difficult book to handle in its Pynchonesque, Joycean ambition, it rewards you with hundreds of vignettes, miniature scenes pulled out of reveries and terrors for our delight and instruction. A more serious book at its core than the punkish surface may let on, the respect for mercy, faith, and humanity beneath the mayhem and alienation reminds us that the search for enduring values persists in the most unlikely fictional and factual terrains. And, like Dante at his quest's end, somehow he sees and does not see his Beatrice again. At least that's my guess. See for yourself. This book marvelously conjures up images from its descriptions, and you too drift through space.
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