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Kootenay Co-op invites you to join our FREE community book club! Each month, a local personality will lead the discussion on their chosen book at the Nelson Public Library. You can find the books at the library, Otter Books, on your friend’s bookshelf, or as an audiobook from the library or audible.com. You can sign up to save your spot in the form below or at Customer Service once registration for the session opens, on the 1st of the prior month. Check out the rest of the books on the Book Club Page and share your thoughts on the Facebook Event.
To register for this month’s discussion, please complete the form below!
From Mike Stolte:
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting is poignant and provocative. Milan Kundera is a master at describing the often inane and arbitrary nature of life. I first read this book in the early 1990s, not long after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, and was reminded how we in Canada take our freedoms for granted, how quickly a totalitarian regime can take hold, divide its people, strip a nation of its collective memory and historical identity. This book affected me by shining a light on the whole subject of memory and forgetting, at both a personal and national level.
Kundera also brilliantly describes the human condition, warts and all. I particularly admired how he lay bare his country’s unlovably lovable rock stars, Czechoslovakia’s famous poets, and truly humanized them by showing how utterly ego-driven they were. No one, including himself, escapes his critical gaze. In fact, Kundera, an astute observer of human nature, keenly predicts the demise of civil society because of people clamouring to be heard and seen, without truly listening. He is eerily prescient, in light of the rise of social media.
Kundera doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects, leaving the reader feeling uncomfortable. At times, he also comes across as misogynistic, egotistical with a dim view of life. That being said, I found his intellectual concepts, prose and thinking insightful, original and refreshing. He also is a master at describing the often confusing and contradictory nature of our thinking. I think it’s good to be reminded of this, regularly. No one truly has their shit together!
In this age where many seem to be taking in only what reinforces their points of view (FaceBook, Fox News, etc.), it’s more important than ever to read provocative novels outside of our comfort zones. Novels are one of the only true places (also add rich, connected conversations!) we can get into the inner conversations and unfiltered thoughts of this fascinating, perfectly imperfect species, and get to truly understand ourselves.