Often finding itself on lists of the "greatest book you've never read", Dancing Lessons For The Advanced In Age is a novel by Czechoslovak writer Bohumil Hrabal. Published in 1964, the novel is one long monologue, told by a 70 year old man to a group of sunbathing women. In one long single sentence. That's right, the whole novel is one single sentence!
Bohumil Hrabal is considered one of the greatest Czech authors, and Dancing Lessons, one of not only his masterpieces, but an influential masterpiece of Czech literature. It's long drawn out sentence is littered with references to Czech history, and culture, as the old man recants himself of a life-time of stories. While that might sound a bit dull, it isn't, as the old man litters his anecdotes with irreverent humour. As the old man reveals stories about his life and love, juxtaposed and interweaving with the history of the country.
The story flows, jumps and runs off at tangents, in a cleverly constructed stream of conscience. As if the old man must unburden himself, before it's too late. Full of wit and humour, the novel sometimes playfully drops into a nudge-nudge wink-wink level of humour that you would imagine to flow out of an old man's mouth. As for example he uses the euphemism "the European Renaissance" to referred to sex. The over-arching character of the novel and the garrulous narrator, is one of pathos. The sometimes low-brow comedy of the old cobbler continues apace, until mid-sentence and without warning the...