Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age

By Bohumil Hrabal; Michael Henry Heim (Translator); Adam Thirlwell (Introduction by)
(New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590173770, 117pp.)

Publication Date: May 3, 2011

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Description
Rake, drunkard, aesthete, gossip, raconteur extraordinaire: the narrator of Bohumil Hrabal's rambling, rambunctious masterpiece "Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age" is all these and more. Speaking to a group of sunbathing women who remind him of lovers past, this elderly rouE tells the story of his life--or at least unburdens himself of a lifetime's worth of stories. Thus we learn of amatory conquests (and humiliations), of scandals both private and public, of military adventures and domestic feuds, of what things were like "in the days of the monarchy" and how they've changed since. As the book tumbles restlessly forward, and the comic tone takes on darker shadings, we realize we are listening to a man talking as much out of desperation as from exuberance.
Hrabal, one of the great Czech writers of the twentieth century, as well as an inveterate haunter of Prague's pubs and football stadiums, developed a unique method which he termed "palavering," whereby characters gab and soliloquize with abandon. Part drunken boast, part soul-rending confession, part metaphysical poem on the nature of love and time, this astonishing novel (which unfolds in a single monumental sentence) shows why he has earned the admiration of such writers as Milan Kundera, John Banville, and Louise Erdrich.



About the Author
Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) was born in Moravia and started writing poems under the influence of French surrealism. In the early 1950s he began to experiment with a stream-of-consciousness style, and eventually wrote such classics as I Served the King of England, Closely Watched Trains (made into an Academy Award-winning film directed by Jiri Menzel), The Death of Mr. Baltisberger, and Too Loud a Solitude. He fell to his death from the fifth floor of a Prague hospital, apparently trying to feed the pigeons.

Michael Henry Heim is a prize-winning translator who teaches at UCLA.

Adam Thirlwell was born in London in 1978. He is the author of two novels, Politics and The Escape, and a book on the international art of the novel, which won a Somerset Maugham Award. In 2003, he was chosen by Granta magazine as one of the Best Young British Novelists. His work is translated into 30 languages.
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