crowyhead, July 28, 2011 (view all comments by crowyhead)
This is a great collection of creepy fairy-tale-esque stories from Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. The stories are often surreal, and Petrushevskaya's matter-of-fact style sometimes makes them less horrifying, but most of the time it compounds the matter. Sometimes the stories reminded me a bit of Kelly Link, but without the whimsy that I tend to associate with her, sort of like if you sucked all the warmth and humor out of a Kelly Link story... I realize that this does not make it sound like I recommend the book, but I absolutely do. And it's not as though there aren't happy endings here, it's just that there is often horror on the way.
Anyway, in short, loved this. It will be lodged in my head for years, I think.
Trouble Maker, February 7, 2010 (view all comments by Trouble Maker)
I haven't read this YET but the title just screams out to me READ ME READ ME READ ME!!!! I absolutely LOVE the fresh, fantabulous "woman" Ludmida created in the title! YESSS! It's in my wish list already!!!!! TM
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Regarded as one of Russia's most talented contemporary writers, Petrushevskaya's collection of vignettes is far beyond the macabre, with characters who desperately cling to the past while living discreetly painful lives. Their souls dangle on the precipice of vacancy, and an unwavering sadness consumes them. The worlds of life and those of death are often blurred, while giving no time or place in which the stories occur. Given all of that, I find much comfort in these tales, as many of them point to a central theme in life: that nothing is as it seems.
by Rachel C.
"Review A Day"
by Alexandra Schwartz, The Nation,
"Petrushevskaya's own brand of fairy tale straddles the line between reality and utopia, intermingling the dismal oppressiveness of life in a Moscow apartment with the joy that can be found in a children's home. 'I think of myself as a documentary writer,' she has said, 'collecting documents about people's lives and reworking them.'" (read the entire Nation review)
by James Wood, The New Yorker,
"A revelation — it is like reading late-Tolstoy fables, with all of the master's directness and brutal authority....A wonderful book."
by The New York Times Book Review,
"Arresting....Incantatory....Timeless and troubling....This exquisite collection [is] vital, eerie and freighted with the moral messages that attend all cautionary tales....[Petrushevskaya] is hailed as one of Russia's best living writers. This slim volume shows why. Again and again, in surprisingly few words, her witchy magic foments an unsettling brew of conscience and consequences."
by The Daily Beast,
"Thrillingly strange....Brilliantly disturbing....The fact that Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is Russia's premier writer of fiction today proves that the literary tradition that produced Dostoyevsky, Gogol, and Babel is alive and well."
by New York,
"As bleak as Beckett, as astringent as witch hazel, as poetic as your finest private passing moments...There Once Lives a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby gave me nightmares. This celebrated Russian author is so disquieting that long after Solzhenitsyn had been published in the Soviet Union, her fiction was banned — even though nothing about it screams 'political' or 'dissident' or anything else. It just screams....If there's any justice, this humble paperback will be greeted as the pinnacle of modern literature that it is — but as Petrushevskaya would be the first to say, to hope for justice is to invite mockery. Better just to keep your head down and write... like this."
The literary event of Halloween: a book of otherworldly power from Russia's preeminent contemporary fiction writer.
Vanishings and aparitions, nightmares and twists of fate, mysterious ailments and supernatural interventions haunt these stories by the Russian master Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, heir to the spellbinding tradition of Gogol and Poe. Blending the miraculous with the macabre, and leavened by a mischievous gallows humor, these bewitching tales are like nothing being written in Russia — or anywhere else in the world-today.
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