On Flying Objects
A prostitute wakes up one morning to discover her boyfriend has tattooed obscene messages all over her body...
A woman tentatively goes back to her new boyfriend’s flat, only to find it packed with toy soldiers and intricately reconstructed war scenes...
A retired pilot flaunts his wealth by keeping pets in the lap of luxury — a gold chain for his goat, even stranger indulgences for his dog...
The men in Emil Hakl’s fiction are, like the title of one story,
oddballs. Whether evading the expectations of adult life, or finding
themselves drawn to characters they’re simultaneously repulsed by, each
one holds a mirror up to the peculiar failings of masculinity. But as
they carouse, argue, philosophise and binge their way through the
streets of Prague, they also offer the reader stark moments of insight
and pathos. Given Hakl’s flair for the surreal, his laconic sense of
humour, and unflinching scrutiny of those closest to him, it’s easy to
see how these stories have elevated him to the status of cult hero in
his native Czech Republic.
'Hakl's downbeat humour never flags, often tied to flashes of
lyricism... Co-translators Petr Kopet and Karen Reppin capture the
tarnished tenderness of these superfluous men as, inevitable as winter
twilights or morning hangovers, "Sadness arrived, the king of all
emotions".' - The Independent.
‘Europe is heavy with history in these stories and the traces left by cataclysm and upheaval — these are present in these tales, and yet coexist with a kind of wry and knowing playfulness.’ — AS Byatt, The Times
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- 1 Jul 2011