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Download Little Town Where Time Stood Still epub

by Bohumil Hrabal

Download Little Town Where Time Stood Still epub
ISBN: 0517144794
ISBN13: 978-0517144794
Category: No category
Author: Bohumil Hrabal
Language: English
Publisher: Random House Value Publishing (May 1, 1995)
ePUB size: 1322 kb
FB2 size: 1337 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 168
Other Formats: lrf doc azw mbr

If only, if only! time had really stood still in Hrabal's enchanting little town! But in fact just the broken town clock and the author's nostalgia for a more vivid but extinguished Life stood, while modernity in the form of radios and Skodas crept in, followed by the Russian army and the New Era of collectivization. That's the main point of these paired novellas, Cutting It Short & The Little Town Where Time Stood Still. Sadly, only Bohumil Hrabal's bittersweet memories truly stand still.

The narrator of Cutting It Short, Maryska, is "not a decent wife" but a wild woman, untamed and untamable, whose ankle-length sunshine hair is the glory of the town, unfurling like a banner of freedom behind her as she pedals her bicycle recklessly here and there. Her husband Francin can no more manage her than he could drive Apollo's chariot, but he loves her with intense fidelity. Francin above all aspires to be 'decent', to do his job and advance his family's station, but his wife, his brother Pepin, and eventually his son have too much joie de vivre to submit to his respectability. Maryska certainly never "stands still." She's the tidal wave of change, the first village woman to cut her skirt short and show her knees, and her model of style is Josephine Baker...!

It can't have been easy for a guy who looked like Hrabal, distinctly weather-beaten, ugly as a boot, to project the voice of a gorgeous woman narrator, and especially such a hoyden, but he did it. His Maryska is completely convincing.

Maryska's son, an eight-year-old boy, is the narrator when the story resumes in The Little Town. His tale begins with his own willful misadventure of getting a tattoo on his chest without his father's approval. The setting is sometime in the 1930s, though for the boy time does seem amorphously still; the story chiefly concerns the two brothers, Francin and Pepin. Francin is still trying to be decent, while Pepin is an archetypal madman, a carouser, a fabulator, an irrepressible lover of life. The brothers are profoundly loyal to each other, and to Maryska. As their antics unfold, the boy narrator fades more and more into the background, until his 'voice' is essentially that of an observer/author. Meanwhile, World War II rolls through town, but even occupation by the hated Germans can't repress Pepin. In fact, the 'fun' continues until the installation of the New Era of Communism, when everything both brothers represent becomes archaic and irrelevant.

The 'little town' is built around a brewery, of which Francin is the manager. Beer flows freely in amber waves through every anecdote, washing the actors in a drunken exuberance of lust for life. Life! despite any and all constraints. I visited a brewery town in Czechoslovakia - Hradec Kralove - which might have been the model for Hrabal's village. My visit was during that brief splendid interlude between the two deathly '-isms' of Communism and Tourism. My impression of the place fortifies my appreciation of Hrabal's powers of evocation. I had an awfully jolly time there, guzzling glorious beer and gobbling roast duck. The Czechs all thought I was East German and teased me mercilessly about how much more miserable things had been in "my" country than in theirs. I couldn't let them know the truth, that my passport was Swedish, since the Czechs have never forgiven the Swedes for the Thirty Years War.

By the way, hey, Swedes! I have to ask you, how come Hrabal never got the Nobel Prize? Both Milan Kundera and Josef Skvorecky acclaim him as the greatest Czech writer of his generation, and I agree. Hrabal's writings combine the rollicking humor of Mark Twain or Marcel Pagnol with the historical wisdom of Joseph Roth and the evocative magic of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Should I throw in Kafka and Kazantzakis? If you can read this book without immediately rushing to buy another Harbal, you're a different kind of reader from me.
Hrabel is best known for his 2 novels, Closely Watched Trains and I Served the King of England. These autobiographical novellas offer great insight into roots: his crazy uncle, wacky/sexy mother, and of course, Czechoslovak beer making/drinking. Fabulous for any fan of the novels, or the equally spectacular movies.
I love the Czechs. Speaking in cultural generalities, they are second only to the Hungarians in their lust for life. Bohumil Hrabal beautifully demonstrates this in the two stories collected in _The Little Town Where Time Stood Still_. Really a collection of vignettes of life in a small Bohemian village, Maryska drinks deeply of the draught of life in all she does, be it making sausages, riding a motorcycle, or acting as hostess to her cantankerous Uncle Pepin. She is unflappable, and finds joy in the simplest of things. One could almost be cynical enough to see her as a parody of a "Soviet realist agricultural proletarian" were it not for her blissful apoliticalness. The second short story (from which the book takes its title) is told from the perspective of Marysaks's son who shares a similar love of life.

The stories per se don't have a real plot or direction: the conflict encountered are not life-endangering or earth-shaking. However, the beautiful (almost poetic) imagery of Hrabal is a pleasure to read, and the way in which the characters revel in the simple joys of life brought a smile to my face. Previous reviewers found fault with the translator's interpretation of Uncle Pipin's Scottish brogue - admittedly, it was a bit odd to read, but the vulgarity, bluntness and prickly temper of the character seemed to go well with the affectation; I found it mildly humourous rather than annoying.

_The Little Town Where Time Stood Still_ is a fine distraction and an even better reminder to look for beauty in the small and simple things that are all around us but which we too often overlook.
The sellers are awesome! The book arrived earlier than schedule, brand new. The book itself is interesting, but it took me a while to get into the story. The writing is pretty high quality. I made this purchase to help prepare for a trip to Czechia, and it was fun to be exposed to different authors and writing styles.
I read this book after hearing someone's raving recommendation about how beautiful the story was. I, apparently, REALLY missed something. I didn't like this book. The stories were odd, to say the least...and the sentences were incredibly long. I found myself drifting a lot or struggling to see the connection between the various chapters. Overall, I thought this book was just plain confusing.
This book also contains the story "Cutting it Short" and has an introduction by Josef Skvorecky.
An engaging portrait of a small town in Bohemia in the period between world war I and II. "Cutting it Short" tells the story of Maryska, an irrepressible young woman who had the habit as a child of nearly drowning. "The Little Town Where Time Stood Still" focuses on Maryska's son as a young man who shares the same talent for stirring up trouble as his mother. Although it is not a major work, it is very satisfying to read and manages to be both moving and funny at the same time.