Thursday, 4 May 2017

Closely Watched Trains by Bohumil Hrabal

"I opened my eyes, Viktoria was still playing in my hair with a finger, and sighing."

Another tick on the 1001 list and this brief little read is a delight. A young apprentice working at a train station in the Czech republic during the German occupation has a humiliating sexual experience, well attempt at any rate, in sharp contrast with his work mentor. His horror leads him to attempt suicide, unsuccessfully and finally become a man and a bit of a hero. The winding sentences are a complete hoot and full of some novel and inventive imagery. The idea of the dispatcher printing the station's stamps on the telegraphist's naked backside is hard to forget. There is something about Czech literature that I've encountered to date, it is a rare mix of innocence and licentiousness that is both adorable and slightly naughty. What is not to love?

4 out of 5 trains that go bump through the tunnel.

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