This Side Of Reality ($14.99 paperback original; Aug. 31, 1996; 230 pp.; 1-85242-378-1): A gathering of 17 accomplished stories, written over the past 30 years by some of Czechoslovakia's major modern writers. Political instability and oppression under Communist rule are prominent foreground presences, though—as in much of classic and contemporary Czech writing—comic surrealism is clearly the preferred literary method. There are funny contributions from such famed authors as Bohumil Hrabal, Ji° Grua, and Josef kvoreck, and two gems: the late Ladislav Fuks's lyrical portrait of a dreamy boy imagining his escape from his imprisoning country (``Kchony Sees the World''), and especially Ivan Kl°ma's ``Tuesday Morning: A Sentimental Comedy,'' a heartfelt and hilarious account of a dissident writer's efforts to remain his own man, and even conduct a love affair, while living under suspicion and surveillance. His advice to himself might stand as a motto for all Czech writing: ``You have a choice: either you set fire to yourself, or you make fun of it all.'' A delightful and exhilarating collection.
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