What is it? What’s it about?
A Tomb for Boris Davidovich is a collection of seven short stories by Danilo Kiš written in 1976 . The stories are based on historical events and deal with themes of political deception, betrayal, and murder in Eastern Europe during the first half of the 20th century (except for “Dogs and Books” which takes place in 14th century France). Several of the stories are written as fictional biographies wherein the main characters interact with historical figures.
Like so many provincial children, the pharmacist’s son, Karl Taube, dreamed about that happy day when, through the thick lenses of his glasses, he would see his town from the bird’s-eye view of departure and for the last time, as one looks through a magnifying glass at dried out and absurd yellow butterflies from one’s school collection: with sadness and disgust.
In the autumn of 1920, at Budapest’s Eastern Station he boarded the first-class car of the Budapest-Vienna Express. The moment the train pulled out, the young Karl Taube waved once more to his father (who was disappearing like a dark blot in the distance, waving his silk handkerchief), then quickly carried his leather suitcase into the third-class car and sat down among the workers.
What did you think?
It had some poetic writing, but as far as storytelling it left me bored. It was hard to follow and it lacked continuity.
Note what wikipedia said: “Several of the stories are written as fictional biographies.” That technique was why it was hard to follow. Also, this is the second book in a row that I’ve read that did this fictional form thing. The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum was a fictional investigative report. Both of them leave out character introductions and make reference to things the reader is assumed to know.
Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Thumbs down from me dawg.