Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Love and Garbage

Love and Garbage by Ivan Klima. A writer living under the communist regime finds himself collecting garbage and sweeping the streets because that's the only job he can find. He sometimes works in the hospital to clean the medical waste.

His past came to his mind, that he spent a year as a visiting professor in the United States. The president of Ford invited him for tea and the writer, a professor in American literature then, asked the president how they dealt with the deserted cars. Where did they go? The president found the question amusing and assured the Czech writer that the used cars would be recycled, no fuss and no worries. The writer now realize that it was not true. All cherished goods become garbage and wait for people to collect; things do not vanish, they degrade and become garbage. That is what he is now, the writer conveys it subtly, that he is garbage too. Disposable.The writing is melancholy with acceptance. Knowing that everything ends up become garbage, he pursues love nonetheless. He hurts people, his wife and his mistress, and they hurt him too, in a quiet, inevitable way. It is inevitable, yes, inevitable, that is the source of his acceptance of his situation. You can not stop milk going sour. Everything is garbage.

Notes from the book:

I think of her only as "she". In my mind I mostly do not give her a name. Names get fingered and worn just like tender words.

Do you think every love indulges in false hopes? she asked.
I realized that she was asking about us, and I dared not say yes, even though I could see no reason why we should be exceptions.

I wanted to fall asleep but I could feel the night creeping around me softly, like a cat out hunting, nothing mattering to it except its intended prey.

Listening to other people's tales, I sometimes feel like a debtor, like an eternal dinner guest who never offer any invitations himself, but usually I can not bring myself to demand the attention of others.

I'm having every sentence I utter examined by a guard dog. I've accommodated a whole pack of them within me. I pick my way between them, their barking at times deafens me and their their soundless footfalls frightens me in my dreams.

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