Book nine


Too Loud a Solitude

Bohumil Hrabal

Czech Republic


A lover of books, though to some a simpleton, our hero faces a Sisyphean task each day for 35 years as a compactor of wastepaper.


He toils away his life crushing paper and books of all sort into a hydraulic press, that beats and pulses like his own heart, shoveling an impossible mass of philosophy, art, history, literature, mystery any and every subject ever written of into what he considers an ignoble end. The job is thankless but for the valuable books he saves from death and takes home with him.


One of my favorite quotes from the book: “when I read, I don’t really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol…”


This book is also a treatise on censorship and the eradication of knowledge and free thought with reference to soviet socialism and propaganda; our champion of books is at times Sisyphus and Don Quixote as he takes on the oppressors of thought and critical understanding of the human condition. He is tormented by the destruction but believes it is his job to save what he can, a little like a character our of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 who “becomes” his favorite book by memorizing it and passing it on to the next generation.


Loved it. Absolutely.



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