My First Loves

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Overview

"The voice [in these stories] is clear and intelligent and brave. Mr. Klíma has climbed the mast." —New York Times
Through four sensuous tales, a young man traces his harsh coming of age in Czechoslovakia, where faith in love, country and human kindness must hold out against increasing political disillusionment. His first affections move from a young kitchen girl in the Jewish ghetto who fills his glass tall with scarce milk to a restless married woman, an undercover spy, and a frail woman who can't escape her ...

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Overview

"The voice [in these stories] is clear and intelligent and brave. Mr. Klíma has climbed the mast." —New York Times
Through four sensuous tales, a young man traces his harsh coming of age in Czechoslovakia, where faith in love, country and human kindness must hold out against increasing political disillusionment. His first affections move from a young kitchen girl in the Jewish ghetto who fills his glass tall with scarce milk to a restless married woman, an undercover spy, and a frail woman who can't escape her past suffering. It is Ivan Klíma's keen, ironic eye and naive, lyrical timbre that suffuses these stories with their richness of detail. Klíma's work was banned in his native Czechoslovakia, where he was published in samizdat.

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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
“What distinguishes My First Loves . . . is Klíma's deft and humorous telling and his ability to weave several complex threads of thought into the basic simplicity of his stories.”
New York Times Book Review
“An ecstatic vertigo is the main feeling that suffuses My First Loves. . . . These stories carry the burning authority and desperate eloquence of a survivor.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“What distinguishes My First Loves . . . is Klíma's deft and humorous telling and his ability to weave several complex threads of thought into the basic simplicity of his stories.”
New York Times Book Review
“An ecstatic vertigo is the main feeling that suffuses My First Loves. . . . These stories carry the burning authority and desperate eloquence of a survivor.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This elegiac and lyrical coming-of-age quartet of stories on love, obsession and disenchantment follows one protagonist from a WW II boyhood in a Czech ghetto to life as a student and aspiring writer under the Communist regime. Klima (A Ship Named Hope), whose works are banned in his native Czechoslovakia, weds the theme of doomed love to that of perfidious politics. The title character of ``Miriam'' demonstrates devotion to the narrator by offering him a special ration of milk in the ghetto. When she is no longer infatuated, he learns that ``it was better to suffer and be loved than to be joyous without love.'' The lesson applies as well to his cousin, who at the story's close has been deported to a concentration camp with her new husband. In ``My Country'' the atrocities of the recent war are pondered and the glories and hazards of a newfound communism are weighed. The introspective narrator learns that an older woman ``could yearn for me and make love to another and weep for another, yet. . . life was like that.'' Most memorable is ``The Truth Game,'' where the protagonist suffers a double loss of innocence: he discovers both the treacheries of his first lover, a capricious, compulsive but charming liar, and of a despotic, charismatic Czech Communist leader. A singular, digressive voice and keen, sensuous imagery imbue these tales with an intoxicating power. (January)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393306019
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/17/1989
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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  • Posted December 1, 2010

    Excellent, Insightful Short Stories on Human Condition

    This collection of short stories was my first introduction to Ivan Klima, one of the best writers in the world today. With clear perception, straightforward prose, and great style, he gives readers insight into the human condition. Also easy to read in spare time, so you have no excuses not to experience him.

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