Apr 10, 2011

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub

As a kid, I read and reread Lem's science fiction short story collection Tales of Pirx the Pilot. In fact, I'd say that book, along with Heinlein's Green Hills of Earth, really cemented my love for science fiction. To this day, I prefer that style - character and story-driven, with just enough tech babble to make it spacey. That was my only exposure to Lem, although I did know that he was a highly respected author in several genres.

Because of my love for Pirx, I really looked forward to picking up this slim novel. Thank god this isn't the first thing I read by Lem, though, because damn. This kind of dry as dust (ha) anti-bureaucracy allegory has become my least favorite kind of dystopian work. This short little book took me 6 months to read, because I'd pick it up, go ten pages, and then put it down in favor of something more entertaining.

Now, it's not hollow or pointless. There is plenty of there there. If you do enjoy this sort of Kafka nightmare fuel, individuals lost in twisting corridors of paperwork and location, unable to save themselves, unable to even understand why they are there and how to get free, well, there's a reason it's a classic of the genre. Lem is Polish, and paints the whole thing with a very Eastern European, cold war paranoid, Soviet doublespeak. It's effective, if you've got a taste for the style. I simply do not, in particular.

In fact, does anyone want my copy? Comment below.


Ms. Moon said...

First off- all that stuff on the page made me freak and think my screen had been attacked by horrible ash virus.
Secondly- NO THANKS! on the copy of the book. Don't even say Kafkaesque to me. I mean it. Or Kafka Nightmare Fuel. No.
Other than that, LOVED THIS!

downtown guy said...

"Horrible ash virus" is pretty much exactly the reaction I was hoping for on that, so perfect. And yes, someone will want this book, but it's neither you nor me.

Radish King said...

I want it. I'll trade you for a book of poetry.

downtown guy said...

Absolutely. Email me? drunkonpabst at gmail dot com.

x-ray iris said...

I didn't learn of Lem until I was 26 or so--I read a book called The Cosmic Carnival which I think was an anthology. And I had another which was all about two robots named Klapaucius and Trurl. That stuff made me laugh out loud, and I thought maybe Douglas Adams had been inspired by Lem. But I couldn't make it through Solaris and I never tried this one, so good on you for making it through and sharing your thoughts.

P.S. Did you ever trade for a book of poetry? Which poet, if so?