"Dārzkopja gads" ir precīzi tāda grāmata, kā varētu gaidīt no tās nosaukuma - tā stāsta par to, kas gada laikā ir jādara dārzkopim. Tomēr te der būt piesardzīgam - šī grāmata nav paredzēta kā mācību līdzeklis dārzkopības iesācējiem, jo tā ir humoristisks miniatūru krājums. Tas tā, lai neiebrauktu auzās kā es ar "Sējas kalendāriem". Varu pastāstīt par Sējas kalendāriem - reiz man gadījās intervēt latviešu interneta dzejnieku Ontūnu Mazpisānu (kas pa šo laiku paspējis pārdēvēties par Mazpusānu - lai mazāk skandalozi skanētu). Un šis stāstīja, ka viņš padomju laikos bijis iesaistīts milzīgu tirāžu guvušajos Jāņa Jirgensona "Sējas kalendāros". Es tad nu padomāju - kas tas par man nezināmu pagrīdes disidentu izdevumu, bet izrādījās, ka "Sējas kalendāri" bija gluži vienkārši "sējas kalendāri", kuros rakstīts, kad sēt auzas, bet kad - pelavas. Pelavas gan laiakm nesēj.
I had read this collection of stories before. But if can write about films that I don`t watch for the first time why couldn`t it be the same with books? Only I`d probably prefer re-reading stuff that strikes me as brilliant. Chapek`s stories don`t really achieve that. I considered him to be a very funny writer indeed when I was much younger (oh, it`s the old me talking right now) but nowadays I don`t find him particulary amusing. Basically he`s just a second-rate Jerome K. Jerome - not too daring and not too funny. His humour does work well on some occasions but on others his jokes fall completely flat. His writing style doesn`t impress me either. The rating is mostly given for the memories of reading it for the first time and not for the actual impression I have now.
My attitude towards Chapek and his work has overgone some shifts during the past few months. Until recently I thought him to be one of the greatest Czech writers but after re-reading tales from pockets I found out that my admiration for his humour had faded. And now when I found a book of his works on a shelf at home I wasn`t very keen on reading the book. Yet I know that you can`t judge a cook by his lover (that was shown perfectly in "The cook, the thief, his wife & her lover" so I gave Chapek one more chance to prove himself worthy of my approval (for everyone wants to be loved by my just as everyone loves Raymond). Hordubal started as a take on Homer`s Odyssey (which I haven`t read, as you can probably guess). Hordubal is a Czech farmer who had been working in the United States for eight years and now he returns to his wife and daughter. The problem is that his wife hasn`t kept her bed empty all those years and that only means trouble. Hordubal himself is quite a simpleton and he doesn`t realise anything for quite a long time and when he does he gets murdered. Still it`s absolutely not clear how he was murdered and what was the main reason of his death - was it lust, was it jealousy, was it greed or was it something else? The novel isn`t comic at all, although Hordubals behaviour may seem silly at times, and despite the traditional start by the end of the book there`s no doubt that Chapek is a 20th century writer and not someone from the era of Dickens. And that`s the way I like it.
This is where I reach the conclusion of Chapek`s "Trilogy". I still don`t know what all these books have in common. Maybe - that you can look differently at everything and that your conclusions cannot be separated from your person. Maybe - that no man is plain as a plank. In that case "An ordinary life" is the right conclusion to the trilogy. Its main hero is a man who knows that he`s going to die soons and he writes his lifestory so it would be a perfect example of an ordinary life. Only by writing it he finds out that he isn`t as ordinary as it may have seemed to him. He finds out that there are several different personalities within him and that he doesn`t like some of them at all. And without all those different personalities, including a simple man, a distrophic, a poet, a hero, a pervert, an ambitious ladderclimber and others he wouldn`t be what he is. Yet he isn`t really sure whether he likes himself for some of his personalities are quite ugly indeed. It would probably be right for me to give here his biography - he was a son of a carpenter, he was very good at school, yet he had no friends there. The went to some good school and started to study at a university. But when he shared a room with a fat poet he forgot about studies and became a rebel, an alcoholic and a supposedly bad poet. When his father refused to send him more money he left his poetry and took a job on a railroad. There he made some sort of a career, married the daughter of the director of his railway station, did some sabotage during WW1 and got a job at some ministry in the new republic of Czechoslovakia. And then he died. Simple? Isn`t it. But some of the pieces of his life didn`t match the pattern he wanted to find everywhere - for example, his short love with poetry, which was characterised by a young man calling him some 40 years later the Czech Rimbaud. And then there was an episode where he had sex at the age of 8 with a gypsy girl.
The second part from Chapek`s so called "Trilogy" of novels didn`t impress me as much as the first one. Although I have to admit that it had a much more promising content. While Hordubal was just a variation of a real crime commited somewhere in Czechoslovakia, "The Meteor is a purely philosophical piece. A strange man has survived a plane crash and sent to a hospital without a chance of ever coming out of coma again. Three different observers create their own versions about this man`s life - they have no real facts about him for his face is gone with the fire that happened on the plane, he has no documents and he isn `t concious. First a nurse has a dream where mister X tells her what a sinner he has been in his life. Then we have an oracle who just happens to be lying next door to the Meteor who has some visions about the man yet he can`t give no exact information about the man`s life for as he says himself he cannot look at insignificant details in a life, he observes the life as a whole. And in the end a writer writes a story how Meteor became the right hand of a mafia man somewhere in Cuba and how he lost everything. Whether any of these stories contains any truth about the hero isn`t mentioned. What`s true what`s imagination - that`s left for the reader`s imagination. Why did I like this novel less than the first part? Mainly because there`s too much of theorie and too few of practics in here.
This is the final novel Chapek wrote in his life short before his protest starvation induced death (he still had little chance to survive the German invasion in Czechoslovakia being the 2nd on their enemy of the state list). The novel contains various people`s memories about some unsuccessful composer. One of them knew him at school, other was his teenage love, some other - a critic to whom he showed his work. From the first part we get a feeling that Foltaine was a talented but a bit disturbed person who could eventually achieve something great. His first girlfriend doesn`t like his bragging for his sexual experience (which doesn`t fit particulary well with his behaviour). But later we find out that Foltaine not only doesn`t become a great composer but that he also doesn`t achieve anything simply because he`s unable to compose a thing. He starts to compose an opera but in fact after he`s married a rich man`s daughter he pays different unsuccessful young musicians to write musical pieces for him and he just somehow binds them together thus achieving a monstrous creating that jumps from one style to another never really going anywhere. In addition to that Foltaine`s passion for a repututation of a bohemian and of a great lover only evolves when he gets older but in deed nobody really wants him, nobody really loves him and he dies after losing his mind completely. The novel itself ends quite abruptly for Chapek didn`t have enough time to finish it and the last chapter was written by a different person. At first I thought it was just a trick done by the author (I didn`t know that it was his last work), but it wasn`t. The novel got published posthumously and I guess it was more than worth being released. A very good book. My impression of Chapek`s work gets better and better once again.
Nesen veicu vecāku grāmatplauktu caurskatīšanu, meklējot vienu ļoti konkrētu izdevumu, taču to man atrast neizdevās, toties ieraudzīju vienu līdz šim nelasītu Čapeka grāmatu. No šī autora lielākoties būtu naivi gaidīt kaut ko diži nopietnu un vērtīgu, bet situācijā, kad man nav noskaņojuma kaut kam ambiciozam un nopietnam, Čapeku vienmēr var izmēģināt. Kā nekā šī grāmata turklāt solīja atklāsmes par to, kā patiesībā notiek lietas (grāmatas latviskais nosaukums - "Kā tas notiek"), un zināms taču, ka mani tas interesē. Vēl jo vairāk, ja zināms, ka grāmatā var izlasīt to, kā lietas notika pirms gandrīz simts gadiem - uzreiz tev ir iespēja salīdzināt, kā tas ir tagad un kā tas bija tad.