From the popular Czech writer (I Served the King of England, 1989; Too Loud a Solitude, 1990), two more novels filled with wit, life, hyperbole, history--and pathos. Long ago, a young wife named Mary has hair that's long and golden and a young husband, Francin, who's manager of a brewery in a little town where the beer is distributed by two big dray horses named Ede and Kare (who sometimes break away for a wild run, their hooves tossing sparks). Life goes on normally enough for the loving Mary and Francin until Uncle Pepin comes to visit (and stays for life)--after which comedy, cross-purposes, and happy (usually) misdirections become the rule. Uncle Pepin's very elements are life, energy, lust, swagger, and comic mischief, and between him and young Mary, a counterbalance to the more earnest if lovable Francin is formed, at least until new times come around, radio is invented, styles change, and ``Everything is going to have to be shortened''--including Mary's long golden hair, a loss by barbering that turns life upside down, at least for a minute or two. So ends Cutting It Short, succeeded by The Little Town Where Time Stood Still, which opens eight years later, looks backward into history under Austria's rule while coming forward through WW II, and finds Uncle Pepin's spirit pitiably waning as Francin's waxes--and as Communism arrives ``and some other kind of time began.'' Francin's old love of motors and trucks will give him a happy new life as distributor of vegetables and other goods--until an empty militarism brings calamity, followed by the piteous death of the faded Uncle Pepin and, from Hrabal, a concluding elegy for times past and gone that ranks with the most sweetly moving ever--period. Lyric, poetic, political novels so entirely filled with imagination and life--and tears--that they burst wonderfully and gloriously at the seams.