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Josef Skvorecky.

Toronto, Lester & Orpen Dennys, c1982.
226pp, cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 0-88619-038-X.

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by Boh Kinczyk.

Volume 11 Number 2.
1983 March.

Nominated for the 1982 Nobel Prize, Josef Skvorecky has already won the prestigious Neustadt Prize for Literature for his collection of novellas, The Bass Saxophone (1980). The Swell Season will earn him even more friends and honours.

Set in wartime Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, the novel traces the amorous misadventures of young Danny, a naive, intelligent high school student. Danny's problem is the problem most high school boys have: How to get Marie or Irena or Karla-Marie—or any one of the other twenty-two girls he is interested in-into the sack. For an inexperienced adolescent, Danny is incredibly smooth, but apparently the deceitful beauties of Kostelec have compared notes and reached a verdict: Danny is just a flirt, interested in only one thing.

You can't help but like him. His candor and sensitivity and even his confused "sincerity" win you over immediately. When he prays to God for a girl, you find yourself wondering whether God is just; when he tries to seduce Marie, you find yourself rooting for him; when he encounters Irena's father, the alderman, at an awkward moment, you want to crawl into a hole. Danny keeps striking out—often dis-astrously-but he keeps trying.

Fortunately, Danny has another love, jazz:

         I would never have believed that such music
         could be extracted from Barta's old piano, or
         that so rmich of the infernal could be extracted
         from an old Bach fugue, for he was such a pious
         organist. It seemed to me there were black candles
         burning on the piano as the young lady's hands,
         white amid all the black, worked over the black
         keys, down to thundering bass notes and up to the
         high, wiry trebles.. .Though the temptress had not
         intended to play jazz she was playing it now.

The young ladies of Kostelec do not respond to Danny's pleas for love, but they listen most attentively when he picks up his tenor sax. When the jazz band starts to play, any season promises to be a swell season.

Boh Kinczyk, Central Elgin C. I., St. Thomas, ON.
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