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Twisted Spoon Press

PO Box 21 - Preslova 12, 150 00 Prague 5, Czech Republic

Book details:
A Lovely Tale of Photography

[ excerpt ]

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also by the author:
A Book of Memories
Own Death
The End of a Family Story
Fire and Knowledge

author events:

  a lovely tale of photography
a film novella

by Péter Nádas

translated from the Hungarian by Imre Goldstein

Péter Nádas is one of the most renowned contemporary Hungarian authors. A Lovely Tale of Photography displays his essentially experimental orientation. It is a hallucinatory novella about a female photographer who is suffering from an undetermined illness. Confined to a sanatorium, where she is surrounded by a cast of stock characters speaking various languages, she is made to confront a reality other than that framed by her camera. The novel takes the form of short scenes, as if a film sequence, and this structure lends the text a fairy-tale, poetic quality similar to many surrealist works.

Nominated for the 2001 International
IMPAC Dublin Literary Award


What others say:

Like a screenwriter, Nadas fills each scene with a stock cinematic style: The setting, then a character enters stage left, then some dialogue, then cut to another scene. The sketch-like episodes end abruptly with sudden directorial cuts, giving the work a jagged, nervous quality. Nadas's experimental style requires deep concentration at times to follow the train of thought, but the poetic quality of his descriptions and lyrical sensuality relentlessly pull the reader along through this modern fairy tale.

—Lucy Mallows, The Budapest Sun

Nadas has succeeded in translating from an essentially visual medium into a verbal one a sort of mood and perspective on reality which is pregnant with meaning, symbol, and portent. From a technical point of view, I judge the work to be a success.

The New Presence

A Lovely Tale of Photography is an abstract and elliptical tale, which is indeed lovely in parts. The book is subtitled "A film novella," and its quirky structure suggests a wander through an album containing sequential photographs without, perhaps, sequential meaning . . . When the comedy really comes through, though, it is delivered in a wonderfully grotesque style, mixing fairy tale and fantasy to subvert the psychoanalytic intensity.

The Prague Post

Rejecting the conventions of traditional storytelling, Nadas has fashioned what he calls a "film novella," which proceeds, not by linear narration, but by rapid jump cuts between highly stylized and fragmented scenes. Gone too are conventional "rounded" characters, replaced by disembodied voices and aesthetic shells without even a semblance of depth. This experimental form gives Nadas the freedom to pursue the true goal of the novella — not the development of a story or the examination of a character, but the elaboration of a number of philosophical themes and reflections.

— Ihor Junyk, The Chicago Review

A Lovely Tale is prey to mood; it is interesting and irritating, evocative and pompous, but short enough, definitely, to make it worth sitting through this strange film of words.

— Paul McRandle, Brainwashed.com


ISBN 9788090217164
124 pp.
14.5 x 20.5 cm
softcover with flaps
smythe sewn
1 B/W photo illus.
RRP: $14.50 • £9.50

release date:
November 1999

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