Hanta has spent 35 years compacting paper in order to save rare books from destruction. In communist Czechoslovakia books are banned. Whilst being a beer soak he also drank the words of the great writers and philosophers ,‘sipping them like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in him like alcohol, infusing brain and heart.' He has saved over 3 tons of books some of which he sells to a professor and some that he gives away to a friend. The rest are stored precariously above his bed at home. We hear about the mice that infest the cellar where he works and sometimes get crushed in the crusher and at other times are carried unwittingly in his pockets or trouser turn-ups to the inn where he gets his beer.
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We hear how his boss harangues him and calls him a Nitwit. Sadly his boss sacks him from the job he loves and replaces him with two efficients, members of the Brigade of Socialist Labour, who work at the giant new compacting plant. Distraught Hanta gets drunk and then finds himself back at the cellar where he decides to follow Seneca and Socrates and take his own life by crawling sublimely into the jaws of the crusher with his favourite quotation in his hand.
The review of this Book prepared by John Marcel