‘Like rotting stakes in a forest clearing’
The great journalist of conflict in the Third World finds an even stranger and more exotic society in his own home of post-War Poland
Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York’s underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.
All four of these stories are set in post-WW2 Poland and as the author was a journalist, it’s a little unclear whether they are truth or fiction.
Unfortunately, unlike my other reads in the series so far, I can’t really recommend this one. For the most part, I didn’t understand what I was reading. I was often confused and a lot of the content went over my head.
I was ready to confidently give up on this little book, as I determined that this wasn’t for me, but then the final story, ‘The Stiff’, improved things slightly. I enjoyed this story a lot more than the others and would have probably enjoyed it even more had it been longer than 10 pages in length.
I wonder if maybe I’m just not the target audience for this, or I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be reading it, but I probably won’t be picking up and more work by this author. I’m somewhat grateful to read that other reviewers were confused by this too, I don’t feel so bad for not understanding it now!
Overall rating: Despite it’s intriguing name, “An Advertisement for Toothpaste” really isn’t a book I can recommend. I didn’t understand a lot of it and felt confused until the final story. I’m sure this will be enjoyed by many, but sadly it’s not for me – 1 star.