On Flying Objects
Book type: Short Story Collection
Published: 01 Jul 2011
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