Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Love and Garbage by Ivan Klima

This is an excellent novel (at least partially autobiographical) following the life of a writer as he gives up his essay on Kafka to work as a road sweeper in Prague in Cummunist Czechslovakia. From an environmental point of view, the garbage is the most interesting element of the novel. Although the novel doesn't take a specifically environmental stance the fact is it deals with a vastly important environmental issue, how we deal with our rubbish.

The narrator's work as a garbage collector stimulates his meditations on how people were treated as garbage in the ghettos and concentration camps in Nazi Europe which he had lived through as a child. This stimulates the reader to think about how our throwaway society may affect our attitudes to our fellow human beings and in fact other living creatures we share our planet with.

The whole narrative is fairly meandering and moves seamlessly through different time periods and different themes. Kafka is referred to a lot, he's obviously a great influence on the narrator, despite him having given up on his essay!

Love and Garbage by Ivan Klima published 1986 by Penguin


Michelle said...

Love and Garbage sounds like an interesting piece of literature. I'm certainly going to add it to my reading list. I've read a little Kafka in the past and found it intriguing.

I'm so glad to have found your blog, it's lovely. I love all things green and environmental, and have a passion for literature and the written word too.

Michelle at greenearthbazaar.com ;)

Annette Tait said...

I think it is such a pertinent issue, garbage, and how all societies deal with it, and tolerate it's presence, or in some rare cases, tolerate none of it (Singapore was one such place but I think they have relaxed some standards?)
And I think it has very relevant connections to how we treat one another and other living beings on this planet.
thanks for enlightening me to the book!
and nice to see mama piggy with her babies and Driftwood too!

Titus said...

Thanks Poet, I wouldn't have spotted this one otherwise and it looks suspiciously like the sort of novel I would really enjoy (meandering narrative, shifting time periods). Liked your observations too.

And love the new header leaf.

Magyar said...

Tnx for the title. _m
__Learning from refuse... I wish more of us did.

swiss said...

on the rubbish tip, if you haven't already, you might want to czech this out (i'm sorry, really i am but i couldnt resist)

too loud a solitude by bohumil hrabal. my favourite novel about (sort of) disposal

and again, on your czech list (sorry, again)

karel capek's war with the newts

which is just fabulous

mansuetude said...

Great recommend. I am already interested in this woven web of thinking. The others in your comments too perhaps.

Thank u

P. M. Doolan said...

I agree that Klima is an excellent novelist, but he is also a very fine writer of short stories. If you enjoyed Love and Garbage, I recommend My First Loves - it is a collection of four longish short stories - sad, ironic and very lyrical (which is why you will like them I think). Also, Lovers For a Day is a lovely collection that spans many years of his work.

JoMo said...

Oh! I have to pick this up. Garbage is a complex issue that I didn't really think about until about 15 years ago - I was an ex-pat living in a 3rd world country - I bought some nails for a building project and they were given to me wrapped in a piece of paper, my paper...a piece of my own discarded paper that I had thrown in the garbage, you know, for the garbage collectors to take away...that day changed my North American point of view into a world point of view on a lot of things. The concepts of recycling, disposable & usefulness were only the beginning...

Lucy said...

The Emmaus communities here are committed to the idea of saving and redeeming things and people, they are staffed by handicapped people and ex-prisoners collect all kinds of old household things, renovate and clean them up, arrange them in a huge warehouse place and sell them to fund themselves. The moral is that what society rejects can be made whole and useful and valued again. Many of them live on site and they are lively, creative colourful places. They're what we have instead of high street charity shops.

It's great, and yet they can't really cope with the tide of stuff that is being thrown out all the time, to a large extent they are sinking under it. And this isn't garbage but stuff which is potentially usable, or won't break down, but still no one wants it.

But every little helps, I guess. The book sounds good.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lucy - we have similar communities here too, there's a brilliant one that recycles old church pews into modern furniture.

Swiss and PM Doolan - thanks for the recommendations! I will have to look those out!

Michelle - Kafka is intriguing isnt he? Love and Garbage is definitely worth a read. I'm glad to have found your blog too!

Annette & JOMo - definitely a comples issue, garbage, and so intertwined with so many others, more than we generally think