FINALIST FOR THE MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD, this collection of short fiction is set against the backdrop of Russian history from the time of Peter the Great to the years of the post-Soviet collapse. The nine stories in Vladimir's Mustache - familiar to readers of Ninth Letter, Cincinnati Review, Witness and Salt Hill - represent a rare feat of ventriloquism and range. From an IFINALIST FOR THE MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD, this collection of short fiction is set against the backdrop of Russian history from the time of Peter the Great to the years of the post-Soviet collapse. The nine stories in Vladimir's Mustache - familiar to readers of Ninth Letter, Cincinnati Review, Witness and Salt Hill - represent a rare feat of ventriloquism and range. From an Italian castrato who longs to sing for the tsar, to a method actor who learns the danger of losing himself in a role after he is cast as Hitler, to the men and women who meet through "mail order bride agencies, all of Stephan Eirik Clark's stories are told with a humor that's never far removed from an underlying sadness. Regardless of his where he situates his attention, Clark writes with a voice that never falters, telling with great emotional honesty the story of men and women who are trapped by circumstances, alienated by history, or irrevocably estranged from the culture at large....
|Title||:||Vladimir's Mustache: And Other Stories|
|Number of Pages||:||160 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Vladimir's Mustache: And Other Stories Reviews
Vladimir's Mustache is a poignant and clever short story collection, full of unexpected turns and wrenching twists, that keeps the reader both on his toes and emotionally connected. All of the stories are unified by a connection to Russia, Ukraine or the USSR, but they range from the Tsarist period to the post-Soviet era. Many engage with history, but in oblique, often irreverent and unsettling ways -- such as the vivid, powerful tale of an astronomer, Kamkov, asked to settle a dispute between Kaganovich and Molotov under the watchful eye of Stalin. Both "Kamkov the Astronomer" and "The Castrato of St. Petersburg" (a hefty piece well worth its length about a castrato who dreams of performing before the Tsar) are genuine masterpieces, among the best that contemporary short fiction has to offer. Clark has a gift for catching Russian sensibilities while simultaneously telling compelling American stories. His voice is perfectly modulated. A truly first-rate collection.
This short collection is wonderful. The only drawback I can begin to pinpoint is length; I could have read on for ages. With nuanced stories that span a century or more, Clark offers the depth and flavor of Chekhov with contemporary insight and Western input. We glimpse Russia at rule under Putin, tsars, and Marxists, from vantages that include men shopping for brides in Ukraine, a star-gazer whose stars may be crossed, and communist dreams in a US sex shop, among others. The stories are smart, finely-drawn, engaging, with a balance of dark and light. I thoroughly enjoyed this fine little gem and will look for more from this author in future. I would recommend this to anyone, especially when looking for something with a bit of substance.
And yet another interesting read thanks to our friends at the Minnesota Book Awards (finalist; didn’t win.) I like Clark’s writing; just didn’t enjoy the stories that much. And that surprised me as I usually enjoy dark humor. My husband taught me that the cheapest metaphor used by an author is the death of a dog; and that’s how this collection starts out – with a predictable plot line. So that didn’t get me in a good mood to finish the rest of the stories, but I held on. I found three of the nine stories memorable – “The Castrato of St. Petersburg” – almost wish this had been turned into a novel, but then Anne Rice already did that; “The Birds Over the Village N” – found this to be the funniest; and “Vladimir’s Mustache” – although predictable, a good read.
I very much enjoyed reading this short story collection. It is full of well written scenes and poignant observations that will capture the interest of any short story lover out there. What makes the collection so interesting, is that, although the stories are varied, there is a nice sense of interconnection, making a cohesive book. The writing is simple, clear, and it gets out of the way so that the plot can come through. The author is obviously someone with a good sense of pacing. This is incredibly important in short stories, so it’s always a pleasure to read an entire collection that moves this smoothly. I can definitely recommend this book to all lovers of literary fiction and short stories. It makes for a very entertaining read.
I regret disliking this book as much as I do because Clark teaches at my alma mater, but these stories were just not good. A few sunk to being gimmicky and ridiculous (the kind of thing a junior-year writing student might think up in an attempt at cleverness). I even gave away my unread copy of "Sweetness #9" after reading these stories. Sorry Stephan, but I can't imagine ever giving your work another go.
The stories range from delightful to horrifying, and it's a great little book to lend a tiny bit of humanity to the Gulag.
These are marvellous stories, each different from the other, beautifully written and well worth reading.