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3.75 starsTaken from its 5th story as the book title, this six story hardcover proves that I agreed partly with its commendation as a debut to be remembered by Afisha Magazine, Moscow front cover because I found only two stories arguably unique and enjoyable one being Yasha s Eternity and two An Awkward Age First, I would like to say something about the book title itself, I mean this in fact has been an academic term from psychology depicting teen age behaviors during their adjustment in terms of their psychological as well as physical development, in other words, some teen agers would be unpredictably in a good or a bad mood or in their emotional instability till the adults sometimes don t understand or understand vaguely like Max s mother, Marina Interestingly, the story has included narratives on Max s increasingly weird pre teen behaviors as the foundation mysteriously leading to his bizarre words and deeds due to his troubled devil like mind that has horribly gone astray to reach the stage of seemingly incurable symptom.As for Yasha s Eternity , it s the story of a 35 year old man named Yasha Hein waking up while it s still dark and doesn t feel well, everything seems manageable regarding his work and those people he communicates to the extent that he may live in eternity blissfully, he isn t aware of his demise, even its readers who can t help being astonished and wondering when he has passed away Incidentally, I liked the author s sense of humor as we can see from this extract Coming up for fifteen years before, Yasha had married this woman, not really for love exactly, but for something of the sort Or maybe not for love, but simply because of being young Or being stupid Or because that was the way everything was heading, and she was ten years older than him, and her mother was thirty years older than him, and both of them knew very well how to deal with a twenty year old, long nosed boy p 42 To continue .
In this unusual and disturbing collection of short stories, we are drawn into a dark and unsettling world where the boundaries between the real and surreal are blurred, and where we experience the everyday through the unstable and troubled minds of the characters The recognizably contemporary Russian settings and everyday lives are subverted into an uncomfortable and dark reflection of life in Russia today As Starobinets delves into the mental and emotional states of her characters, the we are aware of how fragile their destinies are and how tenuous is their hold on reality.Anna Starobinets is a young Russian journalist and this her first book of fiction is firmly in the tradition of those other Russian masters of the macabre and subversive Gogol and Bulgakov Just as they turned their attention to the absurdity often lurking under the surface of the Tsarist and later the Soviet regimes, she takes a fresh look at modern Russian life At the same time, these stories have a relevance and a resonance that transcend national borders, and this is an absorbing and very well written collection.
An eerie and disturbing collection that nonetheless shows a reality not that different from mine Ironically enough, I thought the titular story was the weakest one least poetic, least demanding of the reader Still, the other stories pull was enough to keep reading.
If Poe and Kafka had a child I imagine this is what it would be like The stories are weird and creepy but captivating in that compulsory manner And the prose is plain and simple which makes the stories even creepy because it doesn t cross that line into absurd grotesque land making the horrors normal and realistic even if they are absurd.
I liked the writing style and the stories have really interesting and refreshing twists, but there s a good amount of sexism and ableism embedded in them.
I d forgotten that I don t really like the horror genre when I picked up this book, and my issues with it mostly stem from that Starobinets certainly has some original premises, particularly An Awkward Age, but really all of the stories do except I m Waiting, which is too short and too simple to even be mediocre Still, I feel like all horror stories use the same gimmicks and Starobinets is much the same Rules was a great rendition of mental illness in a child, but it ends with the threat of murder and falls back on the serial killer psychopath stereotype In the same way, An Awkward Age is successful in its eerie build up, and even the revelation of what exactly is going on with Maxim, but ends on the usual note of too much violence and the character gone mad and succumbing to evil My favorite story in the collection was Yasha s Eternity, perhaps because it s not really a horror story A man wakes up one day and finds he is not alive he doesn t have to breathe, his heart doesn t beat but he s still around, visible to others, able to work and go about his business Still, he is shut out from his normal life because of the fact that he s theoretically dead For people who really enjoy horror, this collection is chock full of new ideas and new scares, and I am sure you will not be disappointed For others, it s an interesting read, but not an especially amazing one.
The only story worth reading, unfortunately is An Awkward Age The rest are too confusing or too boring I suspect it s partly do to a crummy translation I know this is just being nit picky on my part, but I realized when referring to pelmeni, it was called ravioli Sorry, but dumpling makes ten times sense to me since I was scratching my head wondering when I had ever had ravioli in Russia And that was just the beginning of the translation problems Again, just being nit picky.
OMG What s wrong with this woman These short stories are weird, weirder and even weird I don t really know what to think I ll read The Living before completely judging this one.Careful
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