Title: My Merry Mornings
Author: Ivan Klíma
Date of publication: 1983, Readers International Edition 1985
Back cover blurb: 'A popular young writer during the Prague Spring, Ivan Klíma was banned from publishing in the aftermath of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. He has continued to write, however, and his works circulate in hand-typed, lovingly bound "padlock editions", along with other banned writers like Kafka, Orwell, Kundera and Škvorecký.'
Reading reveals: A collection of stories, one for each day of the week, detailing the life of an intellectual forced to work a series of menial jobs under the Czech communist regime. How purely autobiographical they are are is open to question (the author's wife and family zip in and out of existence throughout the book, while any woman who meets him immediately wants to sleep with him, despite his looking like a hobbit in a Beatle-wig on the back cover), but nevertheless the stories are sprightly and joyful, as the title states, despite the underlying grimness of the situation. An engaging and surprisingly sexy tour of Communist-era hospitals, building sites and live carp street sellers.
Random paragraph: 'I think she worked as a shop assistant. Whenever I saw her she was giggling at something, no doubt under the impression that laughing made her look sexy. In bed, or so Mr Mixa maintained, she demanded it three times - first with him on top, then from the left and thirdly from the right. Mr Mixa related all this in order to show how virile he was despite his age and his bulk.'