Poor Hanta. Hanta is our affable, albeit dopey, narrator in Too Loud a Solitude. The old man lives a simple, solitary life in a Czech police state. He is defined by his love of books and, as a paper compactor, spends his days rescuing literary masterpieces from the jaws of the hydraulic press he operates.
His apartment is filled, floor-to-ceiling, with the books he has saved; they threaten to topple and crush him every day, yet he continues to bring them home, to keep them from doom.
When Hanta discovers that a new automatic press has been invented, he can’t help but go check it out. He finds that the new machine compacts paper in a fraction of the time it takes him to do the same job, and the men who operate it have zero interest in the books they crush. Hanta is horrified.
This novella is a roving, bittersweet ride. You can read a whole lot into it, and literary references abound, but it also stands as a simpler tale of a man who sees himself passing into irrelevance with modernity. New technologies, new generations, new interests drown out the voices of the past. And when this past is lost, who will we become? Will we end up as the old man who lives in too loud a solitude?
The end is shocking, but just right. Good job, Hrabal.
Book: Too Loud a Solitude
Author: Bohumil Hrabal
Type: Trippy novella filled with badass truths
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