Too Loud a Solitude

Bohumil Hrabal

After I only made it halfway through the last two books I’ve started, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a book less than a hundred pages long. But I still think I have to thank a tranquil weekend away and the train ride home more than the brevity here.

The majority of these eight chapters begin with a variation of “For thirty-five years now, I’ve been compacting old paper…” like a series of attempts to document a quiet life more than a story carefully woven from beginning to end. The narrator, never formally educated, instead learned through the old books he saved from his hydraulic press and squirreled away in his apartment in such numbers that they threatened to avalanche upon him in his sleep and crush him to death. He considers his work a form of art and dreams of the day he can retire and craft his bales of wastepaper with leisure. His love for books, both the ideas they contain as well as their physical form, will likely resonate today amidst the advances of the digital form.