At the moment I am re-reading Laughable Loves by Milan Kundera , a book consisting of a number of short stories that he wrote in the 60s.
I am going to talk about the stories separately and just share a few thoughts on each.
The first story is one of my favourites in the book.
“Nobody will laugh”
This is the story of a narrator who drags his girlfriend into a web of lies in order to stay on the good side of a meaningless man. By doing so he does just the opposite, ruins his career and loses his girlfriend to one of his professional arch enemies.
Even though none of the characters in this story are likeable (well, maybe Klara, the girlfriend, but I am undecided even on her) they are very interesting and very human. The narrator who wants to avoid to make an enemy and weaves this web of lies. Klara who at first doesn’t seem too bothered that her boyfriend basically made her look like a liar. Mr. Zaturecky, who so desperately wants his treatise critiqued by the narrator. His wife, who in drill sergeant style wants to identify the woman who sullied her husband’s reputation. They are all so realistic and at the same time you shake your head and wonder whether you could get into the same situation.
Another interesting aspect of the story is that we learn a lot about life in Czechoslovakia during that time period. There are street committees that berate the narrator for his promiscuous life style, university committees that punish a lecturer for a. not doing what he is supposed to do and b. for doing what he was not supposed to do and secretaries who get bullied into giving the private address of employees to strangers.
Definitely enjoyable and recommended.