No Saints or Angels
Ivan Klima
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Buy *No Saints or Angels* online No Saints or Angels

Ivan Klima
Grove Press
272 pages
October 2001
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

previous reviewnext review

“We know so very little about each other; we are both engrossed in our own troubles and put on an act for each other.” (196)
Curled Up With a Good Book The faces we wear, the lies we tell, they shatter and crumble like the false, fabricated rhythm of our meager and paltry pedestals. Nothing remains except us -- caught in the remnants, fluttering, twittering, searching for that glittering, glistening enchantment, that forgotten glance; tracing the experience of the damp morning dew.

Ivan Klima is partial to imperfection, and thus we position ourselves in a jagged, steadfast, resolute stance, sifting towards an unexpected, imperceptible event, where suddenly a rift forms, a fissure, a fiat, and we become awkwardly enmeshed, clamoring beneath the sensuous caress of beauty, of a life lived and living. We desire but one thing, the experience of desire, the taste for the turning of the pages.

Ivan Klima, at once expository and prophetic, comments on the familiarity of the absurd. It is a thread once tied, but now unwound; with the precision of a dentist and the callous ambiguity of his instruments, he charts the path of the didactic. In his new novel, No Saints or Angels, he is careful, regimented, leaving just enough space to add the other while filling the holes of the same. He creates an apothecary of mental furniture. Lavish and languid, his tiny compartments are delightful remedies of a soothing, smoothing language.

This is the extension and addition of Love and Garbage. His indifference, an attitude recalcitrant but also inspirational and provocative, implores us to pile it on, pile it all on, because nothing aleatory and awkward can ever be out of place. It is a poignant, boisterous world, impure and immoral, but certainly not imprudent.

As such, the architecture of life is impetuous; its turbulence whimsical, but not without fervor and not without meaning. Between the pews and around the passions of life, Klima arrives ahead of us and before the dualisms of his speech. His insouciance is intensifying in that it allows the reader to amplify the palpitations of the pages without remorse.

He celebrates that “none of us are saints or angels,” but that we are alive. The vibrations are so pragmatic they jostle unbeknownst; carousing a supine desire, both with temerity and confession, the meaninglessness wavers, unsteady, on the brink of an angst-ridden plummet.

Into the depths existentialism and its many deceptions abrasively crash into the sandy, coarse ocean bottom. “I’m a born tightrope walker who’s scared of the wire unless it’s placed on the ground,” exclaims Kristyna’s jocular young love. But Klima raises the ubiquitous landing zone and endears the reader to become callow, almost prurient in his multifarious connections.

Tracing the budding course of the rhizome, he places a lasting and memorable emphasis on two vases -- each similar, but kippering, like a pebble caught in the current, lodged against the asymmetrical disjunction of time. He reminds us of the ruminations, the hollow ambient echo, the intoxicating noise ever so sumptuously emitted from the melancholic emptiness of the fragile, delicate vase.

What subtle incantations we hear, what supple lines we gingerly follow; with ease, with a certain perplexed slowness, advancing those soft, delicious hands -- with an affectionate awareness we note the darkness and the melody of the blue. No longer waiting, we situate ourselves in the middle, but we are already on the edges.

The vases are empty, yes, but the only way to exist is not by "ignoring the things we don’t like and the things about people and the world that could disturb us" (159), but rather by embracing the absurdity, inviting the loneliness, and replanting the nutrients of life in vases of our own creation, our own assemblage. It’s not what we lack but what we are willing to enhance. Look at the leaves of grass, smell the fresh morning air, arouse the temptation to be seduced by anything everywhere, even the cracking clay on the forgotten masks, the broken, rusty altar of our faith.

With a certain sense of celerity, the characters and even the readers are forewarned of their coming condemnation. Kristyna is no longer sentenced to existence nor are we. Klima positions us apart from the sundry mechanics of despair. He offers us one consolation: “There are no saints or angels. Just two vases and nothing else.” Say yes to the world and the world will say yes to you.

© 2002 by Bobby J. George for Curled Up With a Good Book

[Editor's note on story: No Saints or Angels takes readers to contemporary Prague, where fortysomething Czech dentist Kristyna struggles to simultaneously care for her widowed mother, her terminally ill ex-husband, and her drug-seduced teenage daughter; explore a budding relationship with a much younger man; and reconcile herself with the memory of her dead Stalinist father]

buy *No Saints or Angels* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.