Readers who enjoyed Peter Pišt’anek’s trilogy, Rivers of Babylon – and they are numerous – will be delighted to hear that the indefatigable Donald Rayfield has brought us, through his imprint the Garnett Press, another acerbic black comedy from Bratislava. Samko Tále’s Cemetery Book is a deliberately rambling account of grievances, prejudices, anecdotes and worries narrated by a simpleton with a notable susceptibility to his own perfectly circular arguments, who has busily collected cardboard for twenty-eight years. He has ‘become a writer again because it’s raining, and when it’s raining I can’t collect cardboard, because it’s raining’. Moreover, the rear-view mirror has broken off his trusty handcart and needs fixing.
Samko’s primary grievance is that things aren’t what they used to be. Life under Communist rule suited him. He worked hard and his needs were met. If people were puzzling, or misbehaved, then Karol Gunár (PhD Social Sciences) sorted them out. Political refinements may elude Samko, but he