ormer Czech president Vaclav Havel is not quite like any other leader. His autobiography, naturally, is untypical of the political memoir genre. Usually, the ex-leader uses the recounting of his or her life as a means to argue their own flattering version of their legacy. Havel does give a defense of himself.
But this work is, on the whole, something distinct. It is the reckoning of a man with his life’s purpose and his impeding death. The playwright’s story is told not simply through frank narrative, but through literary form. Havel speaks of the chaotic days of revolution, the break-up of his homeland, his brokering with world powers, and time and again slips in a subtle reminder of the banalities that punctuate even such an extraordinary existence, how he needs a longer hose in his garden.