Shimmering Details, Volume I: A Memoir (Hardcover)
The magnum opus of one of Europe's greatest living writers.
“When telling one’s life story to someone else one manufactures not chronicles but legends for oneself,” Péter Nádas writes in his fiction masterpiece, Parallel Stories. Now, in his illuminating memoir, Shimmering Details, the renowned author investigates what it means to reconstruct a life without recourse to the techniques and embellishments of traditional storytelling.
Taking his firmly embedded memories—the “shimmering details” that give this work its title—as his starting point, Nádas dissects them using a method inspired by Freudian dream interpretation. Sounds, scenes, smells, feelings—all are probed for details that might allow him to reconstruct what happened, and when and where. To avoid conscious or unconscious distortions, he deconstructs the stories of others, too—moving in concentric circles toward cause and effect, until their meaning and significance come to light.
In Shimmering Details, Volume I, Nádas probes the history of his family from the late nineteenth century to his birth in 1942 and beyond. In a work that encompasses World War II and the Hungarian Revolution, Nádas traces the hidden connections between the seemingly random events of a life and assembles them into a memoir like no other.
"[Péter Nádas] interrogates his early life and family lore against a vibrant backdrop of 20th-century Budapest in the extraordinary first installment of his two-part memoir . . . Nádas consistently teases out surprising, thought-provoking associations between events . . . The rewards [of reading] are undeniable. This challenging and exceptional memoir affirms the author as a master of his craft." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Nádas, one of the greatest living writers, recognizes, on one hand, that there is no escape from or outside of history—its vast horrors and deep ironies—and simultaneously that the imaginative writer has a responsibility to subjectivity: the minute particulars of experience that are too fine-grained for the historian tracking the rise and fall of nations and empires." —Matthew Gasda, Compact
"Péter Nádas is the great surveyor of 20th-century European mental landscapes . . . One moment he is breathtakingly microscopic, offering a feast of details and nuances, and the next moment he is epochal and essayistic . . . An unsurpassable work of art." ―Iris Radisch, Die Zeit
"A firework of memories, in which each spark unfolds in its own luminosity and, above all, triggers further memories . . . [A] masterpiece . . . [Nádas is] one of the greatest writers of our time." ―Andreas Platthaus, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung