Micro-Review #107: Flights

by Olga Tokarczuk

In BAMBI VS. GODZILLA, David Mamet notes that the secret to writing compelling female characters is to approach them unsentimentally. The same rule seems to apply to just about everything Tokarczuk writes in this book. The Nobel laureate gives us a loosely connected deluge of short story fragments that largely steer clear of obvious emotion while somehow creating a lasting emotional effect.

Flights is jammed full of cool discourse on human anatomy and random-seeming streams of consciousness about travel in eras past and present. If you’re after splashy conflicts or a commercial plot, read something else. If you take nourishment from brilliant writing and keen reflections on smart, unselfaware people, you won’t find a better work of fiction. This is a slow, cerebral work that’s also absolutely at the heart of things. It hits you unawares.

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