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April 02 , 2010

The Wisdom of Uncle Kasimir


Every family has its eccentric uncle, and the Czerniaks are no exception. Kasimir Czerniak was an enigmatic Polish aristocrat whose passage into manhood at the age of twelve was determined by his ability to hold a heavy sword over the neck of a puppy without dropping it. He served in World War II as a spy, became a millionaire in England, and later retired to Switzerland, where he lived in comfort with his dog, Anna Karenina the third. And then, one day, he vanished without a trace. All that remained of his life was a mysterious old trunk full of his papers: mostly correspondence with family members in need of advice.
The Wisdom of Uncle Kasimir presents these weird and wonderful findings, as compiled by Kasimir's grandniece and nephew. Uncle Kasimir's advice is never what you'd expect (his English is a little unreliable, and it's not uncommon for him to mistake a headache for a haddock) but it's always helpful-if hilariously unorthodox. He recommends elaborate Napoleonic military strategy for a nephew who is bullied out of his paper route, and he steers a shy would-be-ladies man to Stanislavksy's Method. In addition to his priceless correspondence, The Wisdom of Uncle Kasimir includes his ambitious attempts at fiction; his patents for absurd inventions; a baffling series of reviews of highway rest stops; and an inspired collection of common mistakes for non-native English speakers ("MARGARINE/ MARJORIE - Marjorie is very kind woman next door. MARGARINE one does put on toast. Do not confuse."). Funny, surprising, and irresistibly entertaining, The Wisdom of Uncle Kasimir is a book like no other.
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