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March 04, 2007



First, be 19. Second, try to get into a girl's pants with the help of Milan Kundera.

That's all there is to it.


On the other side of the street.

Ann / Zen of Writing

Just as he applies his considerable study and understanding of fiction to the writing of books about fiction, so he also uses them to write books of fiction, with the result that reading one of his books is like having the author standing beside you explaining the book at the same time, only, somehow, that has been included in the book. As a reader, I enjoy this approach, but I suppose it isn't for everyone. There are times when he pulls you away from the story to give his opinions. I wouldn't want all my reading to be like that, but I do love his work.

Sean Ferrell

I have to admit, I'm with you Josh. I am drawn to the writing about writing, but not the novels themselves. He does make my list of "People I'd invite to dinner in Heaven." I think I'd seat him between Mike Ditka and Kurt Vonnegut.


You'd need to seat *somebody* between Ditka and Vonnegut. Or set the table with plastic utensils. Oh, and to each his own, but Ditka, Kundera and Vonnegut at the same dinner party sounds to me like some other place -- also starts with "H".


I think that's what needles me, Ann, is that sense of the writer standing next to me, explaining what the book's about. I'd prefer to do without the editorializing. But I suppose someone like Don Delillo does the same thing, and I love Delillo, so I can't say I'm consistent.

Kit Stolz

That's easy. Don't look at it as a novel. Look at it as a philosophy tract, with characters, dialogue, and even some plot. You'll love it!


I have to say that Kundera always strikes me as having an exaggerated sense of his own profundity. I think Ann hit it, though I'm with Josh about my preferences there--I'm not for the author who stands over my shoulder. It's interesting to compare him to DeLillo, whom I also adore. Thing is, I think I am always put off by the implicit sly grin in Kundera--which always seems at least partly self-directed--and the condescension I feel at being encouraged to find everything so damned grinworthy. DeLillo, when he's good, doesn't have that effect. The quirky observations by his characters always seem insecure strivings at something real, rather than confident pronouncements of elusive truths. Or so I pronounce.


Apparently he has a thing about composition and approaches many of his plots as though he is writing a piece of music - I think it is this that gives him something to work against, i.e. a constraint, but at the same time gives rise to some rather mannerly restrictions which can be way annoying (Cf. Immortality, very mannered book, almost odd at times).
However, the film (and of course, the book)of Unbearable Lightness is absolutely brilliant. Once you have seen a (quite) young Juliette Binoche as Teresa, all is forgiven. Just put her into all the other books and you'll be dandy.

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