I don’t want to say too much about Parallel Stories since I’ve got a review of it coming out soon and that’ll say most of what I’ve thought, but since people are starting to dig into it I thought I should say something. Is it worth reading? Yes. Does it represent the strain of East European post-modernist (as opposed to postmodernist) writing that I find most interesting right now? No.
Like most (all?) 1,100-page books, there were lots of awesome moments and lots of slog-worthy moments (though I do think that people will tend to agree where the awesomeness and slogfullness lies, which, in my opinion, is not a good thing). Nadas is clearly taking on something big here, and I think he does a worthy job with it, but these days I’m more interested in the kind of writing that an author like Laszlo Krasznahorkai is doing (for instance, The Melancholy of Resistance). The latter, to me, is more representative of literature as an art form, whereas what Nadas is doing is a little more pedantic. That’s not to say there aren’t a number of great, artistic moments, but on the whole the project feels different.
One thing I don’t recall touching on in the review is that the form is totally different from A Book of Memories. The epic sentences and paragraphs are completely gone in favor of very short, direct sentences. The result is a much quicker, easier-to-read book, but I thought the long sentences were much more interesting.