I came to this via the Quay Brothers short animated film of the same name, and while I can see how something in the stories inspired the animation, Schulz's prose is richer, denser, but also more full of wonder and joy at the strangeness of life. Schulz's imaginative leaps and descriptive powers are astonishing, and at times I had to run to keep up. He can perfectly capture the sensation of dreaming, slip effortlessly between dimensions of fantasy, and describe the sky or a field of grass better than anyone else I've ever read. In fact the whole collection is like nothing else I've ever encountered.
I became acquainted with Bruno Schulz by way of a literary critic who mentioned John Updike's admiration of the Polish writer's gift for metaphors. Now Updike is no slouch himself at composing breath taking metaphors. The admiration of an American master for Schulz piqued my curiosity. I found and read Sanatorium under the Sign of the Hourglass which led to my acquiring The Street of Crocodiles from Amazon Books. Aristotle considered metaphor making the paramount skill for a writer to cultivate. My collection of Schulz's works -- 26 short stories -- exhibits an approach to style comparable to Kafka. Of the two, however, I think Schulz the more optimistic. Also, Kafka is not nearly so fond of metaphors as Schulz. Such a line by Schulz as 'she unloaded sides of meat with their keyboard of ribs swollen with energy and strength' indicates a mind with a knack for seeing similarity in differences, the hallmark of a metaphorist. If this sip of Bruno Schulz appeals to a reader, a vat more awaits his palate in this book. There are writers who create fiction largely unrelated to their lives. Barbara Cortland wrote romances set in previous centuries. Louis D'amour set his stories in the old west. Agatha Christy was a queen of murder mysteries though she never got even a traffic ticket. Bruno Schulz is not in this category. He belongs to those writers who write close to home. Kafka and Joyce are likewise members of this illustrious and fascinating group. They spin the dross of their lives into golden prose. I can not be so audacious as to declare their domain the best in the literature's empire, but in my opinion a visit to them is well worth taking. The engaging introduction to The Street of Crocodiles provides a reader with the salient facts of this little known artist. Bruno Schulz's genius and life ended in the Nazi oppression of European Jewry. Nothing can be done to erase that dark icy period. Some atonement is possible, however, in the recovery of this author's works and their ava! ilability on the internet.
There are some books that you just have to have read if you want to perceive the essence of the twentieth-century. This, along with Sartre, Kafka, Greene et al, is one such book. Get it....Read it.....Love it.