Closely Watched Trains
Hrabal's postwar classic about a young man's coming of age in German-occupied Czechoslovakia is among his most beloved and accessible works. Closely Watched Trains is the subtle and poetic portrait of Milos Hrma, a timid young railroad apprentice who insulates himself with fantasy against a reality filled with cruelty and grief. Day after day as he watches trains fly by, he torments himself with the suspicion that he himself is being watched and with fears of impotency. Hrma finally affirms his manhood and, with a sense of peace and purpose he has never known before, heroically confronts a trainload of Nazis.