Book Review: Slowness by Milan Kundera

SlownessSlowness by Milan Kundera
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This short ‘novelette’ was my introduction to an author whose works I’ve wanted to read for some time but never got around to it. I have three books of his after a recommendation from a friend and this was the shortest so…what could go wrong? I thought.

The book promised a lot. An interweaving of two stories, or three if you include the narrator’s, eroticism, comedy and serious philosophical thought about the relationship of slowness and memory. It started well – indeed the logic was solid that when things are taken slowly they are held in the memory more firmly and things at speed are forgotten.

But then…that was as far as it went really for depth. My hope is that this ‘divertimento’ by Kundera is as light in manner as it is light to read and that the next of his I read will cover greater depth and say something truly meaningful about the human condition. This one didn’t hit the spot I’m afraid despite sounding deep it simply wasn’t.

Perhaps it’s just me? I can see how the book could appeal to many who spend their lives rushing around perhaps in pursuit of happiness as Kundera’s characters discuss. It could stop them in their tracks and make them consider again how they live their lives maybe. The book was written in 1995 at a time when ‘post-modern’ was a term beginning to be bounced around a lot and it may be that the concepts he discusses were new and ‘special’ back then. Now though I feel this book was rather like having an brief discussion over a party drink that leaves you wanting to say “very interesting”, nod sagely, and then instantly forget about it as you wander over to someone else to talk about something meatier.

I may be doing Kundera a terrible disservice – I will have a better idea after I read his “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” which is a book that has been on my list for a long time. For now though, despite how well written “Slowness” is, I wait to be impressed.

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