08 February 2011

Book Review: Krakow Melt

Title: Krakow Melt
Author: Daniel Allen Cox
Publisher/Year: Arsenal Pulp Press / 2010
Date Finished: 19 January 2011
Source/Format: Bought / Print

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: GLBT(Q) Challenge

This was a very hard book for me to review. Typically I review a book immediately after finishing it. Like right after closing it. This one has been languishing next to my couch for about a month. Let me try to make sense of it:

Radek, a gay artist who practices parkour, is fascinated by fire. His art primarily centers around building small scale models of cities which burned and then lighting them on fire. Living in Krakow, Poland, Radek struggles with the homophobia of his country. He meets Dorota, a literature student, and the two explore their city and protest its injustices.

The book is strange, make no mistake. The plot is relatively meandering without a clear central conflict to guide the action. The narrative itself is broken up by letters from Radek to Dorota and vice versa, as well as political and historical discussions. There is even some notes on elephant sex.

Despite the relatively disjointed nature, by the end, the reader has a picture of the time the book covers, and the reader has been confronted with some serious issues: homophobia, friendship, sex, and love, and the universality of destruction and rebirth.

One big annoyance to me was the character of Dorota. She seemed to be created more as a perfect companion for Radek than a personality in her own right. This becomes glaringly clear at the end of the book, which I won't spoil for you, but which caused me to do a bit of an eyeroll.

I know it is considered bad practice - or a cop out - to say this, but here you have it: I am really quite ambivalent about the book. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. My opinions feel disjointed - like I loved certain aspects such as the writing, the eccentricity, but I hated others like the writing and the eccentricity. Yep, I realize I am making no sense, but there you have it.

Question:  Have you ever read a book that you just could not decide how you felt about it?


  1. Hey, man, neutrality is an option. ;)

    This happens to me with Jodi Picoult—her books are technically quite good, but they just sort of slide off the brain once I close them.

  2. Yes! All the time! Happened just recently with Freedom. Great writing, obnoxious author, bad characters. I perked up when I saw this, only because Krakow is really a cool town. There is potential there for atmosphere. I don't know the time period of the story, but I'd say that Poland, in general, is pretty forward-thinking when it comes to lifestyle alternatives, unless you get into the smaller villages. At least that is my impression.

  3. I do hate when that happens. When conflicted about a book it really is impossible to write about too isn't it. I think you did well here though :)

  4. I have read reviews of this book that are similar to yours, and have to say that this book doesn't sound all that appealing to me. That being said, I always find it hard to write a review for a book that I am totally neutral on, because it always comes across as a technical exercise rather than a creative endeavor. I don't know if others feel this way, but it often happens to me.

  5. Doesn't sound like a cop out to me at all! Sometimes it really is impossible to sort out how we feel about a book.

  6. I pretty much let all reviews languish for weeks whether I liked them or not. I do struggle when I don't feel too much of anything about a book ... and that is what it sounds like you are dealing with here.

  7. Yes, I often feel meh about books!

    And parkour is trippy...have you ever watched a video about it?


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