cover image Headed for the Blues: A Memoir

Headed for the Blues: A Memoir

Josef Skvorecky. Ecco Press, $23 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-88001-462-5

This short, hallucinatory memoir by Czech novelist Svorecky (The Bride of Texas), who emigrated to Canada in 1968, is a nonstop, free-associative outpouring, as daring and experimental as his novels. He reminisces on his political and sexual awakening, his youth in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, the arbitrary arrests of friends and fellow activists after the Communists grabbed totalitarian power in 1949 and his artistic revolt against ""wall-to-wall Czech socialist realism."" The tone is feverish, bitterly sardonic, in a narrative peppered with anecdotes, asides, witticisms, memory shards and topical allusions (many skillfully explicated in the translator's notes). Writing nostalgically of his love of jazz and of resistance to the Soviet invasion in the 1968 Prague Spring, Svorecky also offers random, often irreverent comments on Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Kundera, Hemingway, Karel Capek. (May)