In the long-forgotten past, when it was not unusual for people to go on international holidays to far away places, one of my good friends was visiting family in New York. She was strolling around Manhattan when she saw this quote on the pavement. “Because when I read, I don't really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or I sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins to the root of each blood vessel.” This is probably my favourite quote of all time; I am tempted to get it as a tattoo… She sent a photo of the excerpt on the pavement to me, and after seeing it, I knew that I had to read the book it came from. This beautiful snippet came from the book 'Too Loud a Solitude' by Bohumil Hrabal.
Due to political censorship, Hrabel, a Czech writer, self-published this book in 1976 before it was officially released in 1989. This tale follows the story of a man, Hanta, whose job it is to compress all sorts of printed materials into heaps for recycling and who spends much of his free time drinking. However, this book is far more than the profession and drinking habits of our protagonist. By reading the works that he ends up destroying, and not just reading but “infusing” them into himself, Hanta chooses not to just let life passively wash over him, but instead longs to suck the meaning out of it. As the story unfolds, the reader is able to view the world through his eyes. Although our current situation is vastly different to that of the Czechoslovaks of the time, it does not render Hanta’s perspective irrelevant.