This book is an extended elegy for the death of history, literature, and Europe ...There is an honesty that burns through this work. It wants to but can’t be serious. It is the funniest elegy I’ve ever read. It is perhaps at its best when it is imitating bad writing, i.e. commercial novels and films. These imitations are vaudevillian, grotesque, and vulgar, like mean-spirited playground bullying. They occur in a postmodern world beyond the distinction of high and low culture, where intellectuals are frauds who are just as narrow as the philistines they disdain, and where literature devolves into caricature, because the novelist can’t seriously claim to transcend himself and represent humanity ... This book is as much a novel as it is a repudiation and critique of novel-writing. It is explicit about its attempt to reinvent the novel. As I have tried to make clear, nothing about this novel is transparent ... As much as it wants to please the reader, and succeeds in doing so, this book also intends to hurt.
Von Rezzori’s book is episodic, with stories sometimes breaking off in the middle, always with an odd poetry...that finds beauty even in the most terrible destruction. A challenging consideration of a murderous history by a knowing witness.
This omnibus volume...is a masterpiece of excess ... While not entirely devoid of the sort of casual sexism and racism best left in the past, the narrator’s wit and wickedness—as well as his audacity in attempting to write a 'book that bears witness to man in the second half of the twentieth century'—elevates this work. These new translations breathe life into von Rezzori’s ambitious and exhausting epic.