By Andrej Stasiuk
This is the best book I have read this year. Possibly for the last two years. What makes it so good is the prose, the subject matter, the ideas and the cohesion of the elements. These are a collection of short stories and when I found this out on receiving the book I wasn’t too happy as I generally don’t find short stories very satisfying. However these all follow a similar theme – that of travelling and memories and it could almost be thought of as a diary or journal but in no chronological order. This book does what all supreme works of literature should do – it makes you dream. After reading a paragraph you then sit and think about your experiences so half of the time I spent reading this book I actually spent staring into space myself. It is contemplative, amusing and there is a fantastic turn of phrase. I now know that I will visit Gallicia in South Eastern Poland in the future and that I will travel through the Carpathian Mountains. Stasiuk makes you want to see what he has seen and to revisit your own memories while experiencing and creating new ones. There have been a number of his works translated into English and strangely enough this book was reviewed on the guardian book blog as I was reading it. There will be reviews of Stasiuk’s other writings over the coming months as I buy and work my way through them. This gets FIVE stars. I haven’t been this excited since… I first read Gombrowicz and… since Arsenal went one up in the Champions league final through Sol Campbell’s header.
Soundtrack: The entire Velvet Underground and Nico Album. (Which also gets FIVE stars)