A literary event

book

The Last Bell by Johannes Urzidil

Book Review:  4 out of 5 stars

Johannes Urzidil belonged to the literary circle in Prague that included both Franz Kafka, Franz Werfel and Max Brod. When Czechoslovakia was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1939, he came to the United States.  He was living in the US in the 50’s and 60’s when these short stories were written.  He was awarded quite a few literary prizes during his career.  The asteroid 70679 Urzidil was named after him.  Although his books were published in many other countries, his work has been overlooked here.  This is the first publication of The Last Bell in the United States so it’s quite a literary event.  The stories are mostly about the outcome of ordinary events when something unexpected happens.

 

“The Last Bell”

Marska is a fortunate maid. Her Jewish master and mistress have fled the Nazis and have left all of their belongings and money to her.  However, her fortune takes a turn when she invites her sister Joska to live with her and her fortune becomes a hinderance.  This tale is the saddest in the book, although it’s written in a light manner and humorous manner.  The author’s humor makes the horror of this story all that more real.

 

“The Duchess of Albanera”

This is a fantastical story of the theft of a painting and the precarious slip of his sanity as the thief falls in love with the painting.

 

“Siegelmann’s Journey”

This is a moralistic tale of a travel agent who has never traveled himself but can spin a complicated web of lies that he gets tangled in.

 

“Borderland”

Ottilie is a gifted young girl who finds it difficult to conform to ordinary life. She witnesses an event that plunges her into despair.  This magical tale is my favorite in the book.

 

“Where the Valley Ends”

A tale of how discord among neighbors over a stolen cheesecake can lead to war. Such a small incident grows completely out of proportion.

 

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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2 thoughts on “A literary event

  1. Hello Marjorie:

            I thought you’d might enjoy a free advanced release e-copy of the brand new sci-fi fantasy comedy 11,984.  This is not a conventional novel. It contains a lot of creative innovations, including punctuation from the future. 

            Thousands of years in the future, humanity has finally eradicated war, poverty, and all forms of human suffering. With no problems or unanswered questions remaining in the world, everyone is bored out of their minds, that is until the sun starts putting on a light show, the first warning sign it’s getting ready to supernova!

           Our heroes from the year 11,984 are your typical family of two mothers, three fathers, a couple of kids, and plenty of robots. Fun-loving Troll, so called because of her giant troll doll hair(They don’t have names in the future, or wear clothes) is the world’s leading hydrologist/interior decorator, whose plans to retire quickly change when faced with the drought to end all droughts. Bulb, bald head glowing like a lightbulb, is the cranky Minister of Rational Thought. His faith in science is tested by the total collapse of society. Last but not least is Litterbot, the clumsy garbagebot who gets no respect, and whose highest priority–to clean–is frustrated by a world without messes. 

           As the family works on building an escape spaceship, the sun bombards them in changing colors, which unbeknownst to them causes radiation insanity. The sky colors keep growing stronger, and these totally peaceful people are at each other’s throats. It gets so bad their bodies mutate (which helps them work faster) and world computer crashes (forcing them to read primitive paper books, and rely more on Litterbot.) Will they launch before getting smashed to pieces? 

          My first humor novel, Foxavier and Plinka, was published in 2013, and is also available.

    May I email the complete 11,984 manuscript of 75,000 words?

    Thank you.

    Scott Evans

    Scottevansrochester@yahoo.com

    15 Savannah St., Rochester NY

    Like

  2. I’m sorry, Scott, but I only accept ARCs to read and review from publishers. Plus I don’t think I’d be a good match to read and review your book as I’m more a lover of books on the dark side than humorous works. Thanks so much for the offer and I do wish you much success with your book.

    Like

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