First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.

Synopsis:

Rich in its stories, characters, and imaginative range, it was this great novel, his fifth work of fiction, that brought Milan Kundera his big international success. Like all his work, it is valuable for far more than its political implications. In seven wonderfully integrated parts, different aspects of human existence are magnified and reduced, reordered and emphasized, newly examined, analyzed, and experienced.


We are done with another work week! The weekend is waving! The events of the next coming days will be crucial for the future of the Philippines. My country will be voting for its next president and vice president on Monday and the results will determine how the next six years will be for us. I hope that every voter will elect an official they can be proud of, those that they know will improve the quality of living here in my country. On another note, I hope that you are ending on a high note. I hope nothing untoward happened during the week. Cheers to accomplishing everything you had to do! For those who are weary and those whose patience has been stretched thin, I hope you get to rest and recover during the weekend. More importantly, I hope that everyone is doing well, physically, mentally, and spiritually. With new subvariants of the COVID 19 virus still emerging, I hope that you still practice the minimum safety protocol. Let us remain vigilant and cautious, especially when we are outside the safety of our homes. Let us beat this virus together.

Before losing myself into the heap of the election activities, let me close this week with a First Impression Friday update. It has become an integral part of my weekly blogging and reading routine. This happens to be my first update for the month of May. After spending the last two months reading exclusively the work of female writers, I have decided to immerse myself in the works of European writers in May. It already commenced with Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls, which was also the transition piece between my two reading journeys. Just like my March reading journey, my April reading journey was brimming with interesting and insightful books. To spice up the experience, I have been alternating new-to-me writers and not-so-new-to-me writers. I am currently reading my third book for the month, Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

After The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Immortality, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is my third book by the controversial Czech writer. It has been over two years since I read my last work by Kundera. It was also a book I have been looking forward to since it was one of the books I keep encountering on must-read lists. And yes, it was also listed as one of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of the book last year and, with the anticipation building, I have included it in my 2022 Top 22 Reading List. Interestingly, this year has been filled with books with titles which has the word “book” on them – Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob, Ozeki’s The Book of Form and Emptiness, Mott’s Hell of a Book, Huisman’s The Book of Mother, Byatt’s The Children’s Books, and now this book by Kundera. This is the most I have had in a year. Prior to 2022, I have read just about three or four books with titles carrying the word book.

I just started reading the book earlier today; I just finished Natalia Ginzburg’s Family Sayings early today as well. Oh, I just learned that this is my fortieth book this year. Nonetheless, I was able to cover enough chapters to allow me to create an image of the story in my mind. I actually completed the first part, Love Letters. The book, by the way, is divided into seven parts. It did help that the chapters were rather short, hence, a fast-paced reading. The first part was set in 1971 and was the story of Mirek as he recalled his memories of his affair with Zdena. The first thing that immediately caught my attention were historical figures, mostly names I have never heard of before such as Klement Gottwald, a Communist leader who also once served as the President of Czechoslovakia.

Communism was also repeatedly mentioned in the first part of the story. I was then reminded that Kundera’s earlier works were highly political in nature, hence, his contentious relationship with the Czech government. I suspect, that with Kundera’s proclivity for political discourse, communism and other political themes will appear in the succeeding six parts of the book. What intrigues me right now are the connections between the seven parts for it seemed that part I has already concluded. I could be wrong though. Will the connections be loose or will they be vivid? I am also looking forward to other subjects and themes that the rest of the book has explored. I surmise that the book is rich in sexual overtones, judging from his first two books I have read.

There seem to be a lot of things to look forward to in the story even though it looks deceptively slender. With this being said, I hope to finish the book over the weekend. It does seem like a slender read. How about you fellow reader? What book or books are you taking with you for the weekend? I hope you get to enjoy them. For now, happy weekend! And as always, happy reading and take care!