Sunday, February 2, 2014

Review: "Satantango" by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Man, Hungarian literature has to be the most densest I have ever read, like the Italian cinema of the literary world, because even though it clocked in at only 272 pages, Satantango, by the author Laszlo Krasznahorkai, whose name may end up killing my spell check, is quite the feat of intellect, but damn is it far, far from interesting. The only book I can really compare it to is Parallel Stories by Peter Nadas, whose first 100 pages felt like 400 and the other 1000 seemed like a trek through that would bring even the hardest Eskimo down on their knees begging for mercy. There is no real relief from the intellectual marathon that Krasznahorkai is making the reader run. It may have been in his mind as he was writing the book, because it is about systems breaking down in a large farming community over the course of two days, but I don’t really like being beaten over the head by themes and ideas I can hardly grasp. As I said, the story takes place over the course of a few days, as a farming community prepares to sell its land and make a huge profit. When one of there own, who made a similar deal, is said to be returning to town, the news brings with a sense of dread, and soon, apocalyptic violence. The first thing I noticed about the book was there are no indentations for paragraphs, similar to the novels of Jose Saramago, but Krasznahorkai does use punctuation other than commas and periods. It gives the strange affect of a shaky grandiosity as events become more and more malevolent. But this really is a book meant to be read only by literary professors for some obscure class in an Ivy League college, not someone looking to get lost in a book. I can’t imagine if this were twice as long.

Rating: 3/5

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