Monday, August 1, 2011

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting
By Milan Kundera

This novel is far too difficult to write about. It is a book with seven very loosely related narrative strands that, as the title suggests, center on the themes of laughter and forgetting. It's a damned good book. Far too good to have me hack away at the keyboard trying to dissect it for you.

See, I write my blogs on the same day I finish my books, so I'm not your best source for literary criticism. I'm really all about specific feeling of a reading. That's why I write what I write so quickly following the read. I don't want to get too far into my next book without chronicling what may have been on my mind during the previous book. If you're looking for literary criticism on the web, go to Publisher's Weekly.

Anyway, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is a very textured narrative. Of course it is. It was written by Milan Kundera. It would be the acme of arrogance to assume that I can deconstruct (or even retell) a novel such as this in a forum such as this. I am simply not equipped, either chronologically or academically, to deal with this sort of book but I can say this: I thought it was The best book I've ever read by Milan Kundera. Immeasurably better than The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It's much more personal, more human, more evocative. It strikes a deeper chord within and resonates. It echoes off of every fiber of your being an forces you to remember what you thought you had forgotten. It's a novel that could shatter your soul, or stitch it back together, depending on who you are, where you are and what you had for lunch. If there were a pop music equivalent it would be Daydream Nation by Sonic Youth. If it were a film it would be Donnie Darko. The Book of Laugher and Forgetting is a gift. One that is well left alone by the likes of me.

But there did exist a single sentence from this novel that struck me particularly hard and I wanted to share it with fellow bloggers and blog readers and lurkers alike. It a startling premonition of a world that Kundera had yet to behold in 1979.
One morning (and it will be soon), when everyone wakes up as a writer, the age of universal deafness and incomprehension will have arrived.
Welcome to the blogosphere! Is anyone listening? Does anyone understand?


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