First, there’s an anecdote from the narrator’s likeable, beautifully irksome Dad, about a pissed-up orang-utan. The rest is the father and son’s after-work pub crawl around a tangibly contemporary and contradictory Prague. Like the scurf-encrusted Staropramen glasses on the cover, it’s dead funny, fairly depressing, and very, very atmospheric.
Of Kids and Parents is very funny from the outset but with a creeping prickle of nihilism that keeps in well with the lazy, sometimes awkward, early evening hedonism. It’s sneakily bleak on the subject of love and proves modern history to be bleaker still, but the dialogue between the know-it-all Dad and his narky son should keep your mood very much afloat.
It’s wonderful that books can still exist where nothing “happens” (except in the stories the narrator and his Dad tell each other). The humour and melancholy bob along on gentle waves of situation, while the stories go everywhere from aviation, to penguins, to the history of the Czech Republic, but paint a deceptively coherent picture of the characters’ personal and political history. The writing is so atmospheric and attentive to human behaviour that the pootling between pubs reads like an odyssey – which is what a pub crawl is after all.
Perfect for a solitary after work pint.