THE DROWNING OF A GOLDFISH By Lidmila Sovakova (The Permanent Press: $19.95 ; 149 pp . ) . "If I contemplate the desires of my life . . . the absolute and most intricate attraction I have ever known concerns cats," remarks the narrator of this subtle, slender novel, a young woman who grows up in the Czechoslovakia of the Nazi occupation and the Communist takeover after the war. The child of a bourgeois banking family, she is rejected at university by the new order. She falls ill as a result of a grueling job moving crates in an ice-cold factory and enters a hospital, where she meets Rudolf, a sexist, amoral doctor she eventually marries to avoid returning to the factory. Then a student gives her a beautiful Siamese she must hide in her apartment. The arrival of Iris, the cat, brings loss as well as new opportunity to the narrator's life. In just a few strokes, Sovakova lovingly conveys fleeting moments of a small child's world in pre-World War II Czechoslovakia--images of elegant ladies in pearls, shaded gardens, creme caramel. Her imagistic writing works well in the longer section of this novel, the drab world of Stalinist Eastern Europe.