MY FIRST LOVES by Ivan Klima


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Four longish autobiographical stories by Czech writer Klima (My Merry Mornings), conventional on the surface but imbued with that kind of hallmark ironic exuberance that allows Czech writing to turn sexuality into romance against a border of constant pain. The sunniest piece here is the best: ""My Country,"" about a boy on vacation with his parents after WW II, held in the spell of a doctor's wife staying in the next room at the inn. Here, Klima is able to isolate adolescent longing--as well as high foolishness--emanating from the vacationers coming to grips with what postwar Stalinism is already doing to their innate patriotism. Politics is more on the surface in two other stories--one about the boy's touching crush on a girl who ladles out soup in the Jewish ghetto; another about his mysterious encounter with a young woman with moral crimes on her conscience--but here too eroticism as choice and/or helplessness reverberates with social echoes. Seemingly slight, Klima's stories are indirect and unfailingly graceful--memory here (as was less in evidence in My Merry Mornings) being gracefulness and responsibility at the same time.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0393306011
Publisher: Harper & Row