There was something in the air in the years between the great wars, or if not in the air then in the water. Whatever that something was and whatever the medium of its transmission, it seems to have found its greatest concentration in that part of Europe stretching from Hesse's Germany in the West through the Czechoslovakia of Kafka and Capek, to the Russia of Krzhizanovsky in the East.
Though his stories went largely unpublished in his own lifetime, Krzhizanovsky's work was of sufficient quality to see his death mourned as the passing of a "writer-visionary", an "unsung genius". The stories in this short collection amply bear those tributes out.
In just 200 pages Krzhizanovsky gives his readers tales of a man lost inside his own, ever-expanding apartment, the errant fingers of a concert pianist fleeing through city streets, the tiny figure of a lover trapped within the eyes of his mistress, the autobiography of a corpse, a world saved from global warming and the oil crisis by the apparently inexhaustible energy of human spite, and, most movingly of all, the tale of an unpublished and unpublishable writer, who can find a theme in everything he sees.
Everything in these tales, every sentence, every word, speaks to a genuinely brilliant mind, skipping through ideas and across emotions with all the wit, skill and understanding of a Mozart melody.