Much of the memoirist's art is in telling a selfishly personal story and giving it a universal resonance; the pleasure for the reader is twofold: the discovery of a previously unimagined life, and the reassurance of a human commonality. The more exotic the locale, and the more original the mind, the more difficult the task. Yet Mr. Lem succeeds throughout, and never more gloriously than in his account of the Gymnasium years. He gets it all so right - the jocks, the class sophomore, say, at Beverly Hills High be seized by a sudden curiosity about the state of education in prewar Lvov, he could pick up this book and be amazed to see himself.
The tales of the budding literary fantasist are interspersed throughout with philosophical ruminations on memory, time, bureaucracy, art.
The New York Times Review of Books