Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Polish Complex

As to my best ability, I believe I first encountered Tadeusz Konwicki's work in late 1995. The ennui of my 20s, my feeling helpless in the wake of events abroad and towards art at home left me, well, precarious. I recall that after reading Konwicki's A Minor Apocalypse I thought it would be an impressive gesture to imitate such with a public display at the local Dickens on Main holiday celebration. Long discussions dipping into the following morning convinced me of my error and I soon loaned it to my friend Roger Baylor, whom having spent a decent amount of time in the Eastern Bloc during the 80s, found the surreal disorder of time depicted in the prose to be eerily accurate.
As part of my pledge to the 2011 Read East I had decided upon Polish Literature and planned to focus on such exclusively, thus my reading of Klima (however Ost he might be)doesn't go towards my goal of , say, 15 Polish novels before Christmas.
I finished my second novel, The Polish Complex last night, a quiet wet evening where the FA Cup pined wistfully. It is a classic Protest novel of long queues, empty storefronts and ubiquitous dipsomania; it is punctuated by a pair of episodes during the failed Polish/Lithuanian Revolt of the late 19th Century. I was moved by the melody of the prose which despite its drunken characters never collapses into farce. It is my understanding that The Mighty Angel a novel by Jerzy Pilch (and another one I plan to read for the Challenge) inverts the classic Polish Drinking novel: no doubt, I look forward to such.
I am returning to Balzac for now.


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