An amusing if intermittently exhausting black comedy (originally published in 1969): the third volume of its eloquent Czech author's "black pentology" (Catapult
, 2000; The Five Sonyas
, not reviewed), about the aftermath of the 1960 revolution. It focuses on low-level chemist Borek Trojan and a bewildering array of colleagues, relatives, lovers, and neighbors, most of whom live in a small apartment building where the struggle for more space and finer accommodations assumes the proportions of both bedroom farce and mortal combat. Cravens's brisk translation gives Páral's labyrinthine sentences and paragraphs a welcome colloquial kick, making this merciless satire on bureaucracy and consumerism, among other human failings, a surprisingly entertaining reading experience.
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