The autobiographical thoughts (Zagajewski himself does not like describing this volume as "memoirs") collected in "Another Beauty" are truly delightful. I am not sure if they can make a reader who never experienced life in the Communist system understand it (hardly anything could...), but at least they make a valuable source and can explain a lot of its mechanisms and difficulties of people living in Poland then. Probably this was not the main purpose of this tome (which appeared in Poland at the end of the 1990s) anyway...
The memories of the author's student life in Krakow (which seems similar to the Krakow I know, although I was always there only as a tourist and much later) are mixed with thoughts on music, poetry, people and life, and with short images of the surrounding world, all written in a subtle yet sharp manner, which reminds the reader that Zagajewski is a poet. His metaphors and vision of the world are fresh and original. While reading, I was tempted to write down many sentences as they are universal and wise.
Adam Zagajewski is one of the most important contemporary Polish poets, and although he is erudite, being a philosopher, a writer and a man of great personal culture (a representative of Polish intelligentsia, a class, which hopefully is not extinct yet), he is also very modest and critical towards himself. His prose is full of subtle irony and humor.
"Another Beauty" is a pleasure to read, and, although I have read the original, I am sure that Claire Cavanagh's translation (she is also a translator of many of Zagajewski's poems) does it justice.