Read Кысь by Tatyana Tolstaya Татьяна Толстая Online

Кысь

«Кысь, — литературное открытие последних лет. За этот роман Татьяна толстая была удостоена премии «Триумф».Также в книгу включено несколько интервью автора.«И, похлебав привычного, негустого супу, сплюнув в кулак коготки, задумаешься, глядя в слабый, синеватый огонек свечки, слушая, как шуршит под полом, как трещит в печи, как воет, подступает, жалуется за окном, просится«Кысь, — литературное открытие последних лет. За этот роман Татьяна толстая была удостоена премии «Триумф».Также в книгу включено несколько интервью автора.«И, похлебав привычного, негустого супу, сплюнув в кулак коготки, задумаешься, глядя в слабый, синеватый огонек свечки, слушая, как шуршит под полом, как трещит в печи, как воет, подступает, жалуется за окном, просится в дом что-то белое, тяжелое, холодное, незримое; и представится тебе вдруг твоя изба далекой и малой, словно с дерева смотришь, и весь городок издалека представится, как оброненный в сугроб; и северные леса представятся, пустынные, темные, непроходимые, и качаются ветки северных деревьев, и качается на ветках, — вверх-вниз, — незримая кысь…И тревога холодком, маленькой лапкой тронет сердце, и вздрогнешь, передернешься, глянешь вокруг зорко, словно ты сам себе чужой: что это? Кто я?..»...

Title : Кысь
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9785699105052
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Кысь Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-01-27 21:33

    Tatyana Tolstaya was born into the Russian aristocratic family of Tolstoy. You might be thinking, as was I, would that happen to be the Leo Tolstoy family? Why in fact it is! I wasn't able to trace down exactly how she is related to Leo, but in several articles it mentions her relationship to the Russian literary giant. Her grandfather, Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi, was also a well respected writer who wrote the book "Peter l". Tolstaya has a literary blue-blood heritage that gives her a leg up in the publishing world. The Russian publishers had to be wiping the saliva from their chins at the thought of having another Tolstoy to publish. But can the woman write, can she make Leo Tolstoy proud? YES!!! In my humble opinion she delivered a masterpiece. A wonderfully inventive book that Leo would have read with awe and delight. The book is part of the New York Review Books classic series that are of such high quality I often wonder why I'm not reading more of them. Here is a link to their website. http://www.nybooks.com/books/ Our hero is Benedikt and he is living in a post-apocalyptic world where rabbits are toxic, food in general is scarce, and nearly everyone is exhibiting Consequences as a result of THE BLAST event that happened 200 years ago. Benedikt transcribes old books, written before the THE BLAST, and they are presented to the world as the writings of their leader Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe. The scribes begin to question that the writing style of their dear leader changes so much from book to book, but it is best not to have any association with Freethinking. Anytime you feel different than you should you must be careful. "When you growl through your teeth, grumble and grouse--the anger feels good, it kind of rolls around all prickly warm inside you. You wanna show off your strength. Kick a fence. Or a dog if you meet one. Or smack one of the guys around. Whatever. There are all kinds of things you can do. But sometimes you don't feel like getting mad. It's like there's a sadness inside. Like you feel sorry for someone. Must be feelosophy.Bureaucrats control every faze of their existence. These are for the most part self appointed people who have taken over collecting taxes, rationing of script, and managing the distribution of goods. Most are corrupt and cut a fat hog while the rest of the population is near starvation. The main source of protein and bartering power comes from one little critter that most of us don't even want to contemplate adding to our diet, and certainly it makes me shiver to think of my survival depending on my ability to build a better mouse trap.Trade is determined by how many mice something is worth. Benedikt carries them around in braces under his jacket to barter them for more variety in his food diet. When he goes to see the widow Marfushka he must have enough mice for the legs to part. "Benedikt went to see the widow woman Marfushka about the woman business: maybe once or twice a week, but he'd always go to see Marfushka. You couldn't exactly say she was pretty. In fact, her whole face was sort of crooked, like someone hit her with a battle ax. And one eye wandered. Her figure wasn't all that great either. She was shaped like a turnip. But she didn't have any Consequences. She was rounded out where she out to be and caved in where she out to be. After all, he didn't visit her to look at her, but to take care of the woman business. If looking's what you want--well, you can go out on the street and look until your eyes pop out."Benedikt's life takes an abrupt turn when he decides in a moment of starry eyed lust to ask the beautiful Olenka to marry him. Her family is wealthy and part of his new father-in-law's job is to track down old books. It is illegal to own books printed before the blast and even though most of the population has been made afraid of being in the same room as a "toxic" book from the past there are still people brave enough to squirrel books away in old wells or hidden in walls. It is a life changing moment for Benedikt when he finds that his father-in-law has a room full of books, and once Benedikt gets over his inherent superstitions, and begins to read, he is absolutely lost to the world of books. He inhales them. He spends so much time reading that his wife complains that he isn't paying attention to her anymore. He begins helping his father-in-law to find more books. He becomes an insane (more than just gently mad) bibliophile. He becomes desperate when he realizes that he has...READ THEM ALL. His father-in-law, a few cards short of a full deck, dangles the prospect of liberating the books held by Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe and what ensues is not only hilarious, but a wonderfully constructed piece of social commentary. The world after the blast has slid backwards. Food is an issue. There is never enough of it and too much of what used to be a staple of the Russian table has proven to still be toxic from the blast. Half-human, four-legged Degenenerator's are used to pull sleighs, and the sarcastic word exchanges between one in particular and Benedikt elicited more than one snicker from me. The book receives high marks for originality, humor, and "feelosophy". "Don't you shake your beard at meeee! I with utmost confidence HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  • Nataliya
    2019-02-05 21:48

    Few books terrify me to the depths of my soul as much as this postapocalytic tale full of bleakly-black humor and dark satire, set amongst the radioactive desolation of Moscow Fyodor-Kuzmichsk - which is sunk low in degradation and regression, with economy dependent on mice-hunting, with a lone half-finished statue of Pushkin pushkin stuck in between vegetable plots, with ignorance and superstition ruling it all. Welcome to the world of The Slynx!What makes this book so terrifying to me is how accurately it captures the darkness that inhabits the souls of your everyday average humans, the darkness that makes us hang our heads in shame for our little pathetic human race. These traits are hidden right under the surface - naked power hunger, greed, xenophobia, extreme egoism, glee at others' misery, hatred of anything different... These are always there, lurking in depths of the human soul - individual and collective - just barely reigned in, barely forced underground by the influence of science and literature and medicine and technology and social conscience. But what if the social structures that contained these horrors of humanity collapsed, and resulting destruction of existing culture, regression, and ignorance allowed the worst to come out?Tatyana Tolstaya brilliantly depicts the results of such destruction. It's been 200 years after the nuclear Blast, and what once was a city of Moscow is now a big village of Fyodor-Kuzmichsk (named after its current ruler, of course - until he is unseated). The effects of radiation are on the borderline between terrifying and outright comical. The economy is sustained on hunting mice, and as far as cultural life goes - well, the scribes make handwritten copies of a mishmash of books (supposedly written by Fyodor Kuzmich, of course) ranging from fairy tales to literary classics to logarithmic tables, and the dreaded red-robed Sanitars are omnipresent to take you away for the 'Healing' if you're found to be harboring a book from before the Blast.Take out the radiation side effects, and this can almost be the world of deep Russia centuries ago - the world that is so remote to us and yet so uncomfortably close at the same time. People live in huts, burn candles, do a bit of agriculture and hunting (well, mostly mice, really), there are serfs, the wheel has been recently invented, as well as that new-fangled device for carrying buckets of water from the well (attributed, of course, to Fyodor Kuzmich), boats have been recently invented as well, men beat wives for fun and out of boredom, the strangers are feared and fought with, and superstition permeates every aspect of people's lives... This is the world in which Benedikt, a scribe and an innocent creator of pushkin monument, discovers that he loves reading books, and that there is only ONE correct answer to the 'burning' question (pun intended) - which item would you take out of a burning house first?And this brings me to what I think is the most important theme in this otherwise entertaining but ordinary postapocalyptic story - the importance of MEMORY. People are nothing without it. Memory is what provides the framework, the context for our actions. Memory is what this ruined world lacks - even though there are people from "before", belonging to a variety of Soviet social classes, almost magically prevented from dying. However, these 'former' people seem more concerned with reminiscing about the past and complaining about the present, and do little of value - unless you consider talking about social injustices and putting up signs with the names of long-gone streets and the half-finished monument to Pushkin, which the locals use for securing their clotheslines. With the memory of the past gone, there is no context to any of these. Pushkin is just, well, 'pushkin', lower-case, a random unnecessary statue, a symbol of something ungraspable, unneeded, un-understood; the sign for Arbat or Nikolskie Vorota is worth no more than 'Vitya was here' sloppily carved out below it, and any book is just a collection of empty printed words. They are nothing without the context of memory."In the web of the streets, pushkin stood like a small black stick, and like a thin thread was from high above a clothesline, wrapped like a noose around the poet's neck."This is where I think Tolstaya is brilliant. The idea of a protagonist's world changing once he discovers the miracle of books is not new. What's great here is her approach to it - the idea that all the books in the world mean nothing without the context of memory, without which even Hamlet can be easily interpreted as, perhaps, the story of an unsuccessful mice hunt or something of the sorts. In order to beat the ignorance you need more than just ability to mechanistically read - you need to be able to understand and learn, otherwise reading can be quite dangerous, actually. In order to achieve any kind of enlightenment you need to first learn the 'alphabet' - which is not as simple and straightforward as poor naive Benedikt may think (by the way, I'm not sure how it was done in the English translation, but in Russian, the chapters of the book are titled with the names of the letters of the old Russian alphabet. I thought it was quite neat).The language of this book is a treat (at least to those who read Russian). The medieval peasant-like feel of the language with some twisted and half-forgotten neologisms of 'recent past' is quite fun and unsettling at the same time. And almost on every page there are allusions to the classics of the literature, including, of course, Alexander Pushkin, creating wonderful, delicious subtext and context. I can only hope that the translation managed to capture the feel of the original, since otherwise it'd be a loss to the overall feel and message of the story. And let us not forget the constant references to relatively recent Russian politics, that give this story a sharp edge of political farce in addition to everything else it is.=======================================4.5 stars is the verdict. It fell just a bit short of absolutely loving it, perhaps because of the slow build up in the first half of the book that reminded quite a bit of the standard postapocalyptic/dystopian fare. Also, I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the ending (is it the only possible way for it to end - or a cop-out? Time will, maybe, tell). I recommend it highly, however - it is a true gem of the genre.----------And special thanks to Jeffrey Keeten, whose excellent review prompted me to reread this book (and without the reread, I would not have understood nearly as much as I had the second time around)."...Как же нет? А чем же говоришь, чем плачешь, какими словами боишься,какими кричишь во сне? Разве не бродят в тебе ночные крики, глуховатое вечернее бормоталово, свежий утренний взвизг? Вот же оно, слово, - не узнал? - вот же оно корячится в тебе, рвется вон! Это оно! Это твое! Так из дерева, из камня, из коряги силится, тщится наружу глухой, желудочный, нутряной мык и нык, - извивается обрубок языка, раздуты в муке вырванные ноздри. Так гуняво гундосят заколдованные, побитые, скрюченные, с белыми вареными глазами, запертые в чуланах, с вырванной жилой, с перекушенной хребтиной; так, верно, и пушкин твой корячился, али кукушкин, - что в имени тебе моем? - пушкин-кукушкин, черным кудлатым идолом взметнувшийся на пригорке, навечно сплющенный заборами, по уши заросший укропом, пушкин-обрубок, безногий, шестипалый, прикусивший язык, носом уткнувшийся в грудь, - и головы не приподнять! - пушкин, рвущий с себя отравленную рубаху, веревки, цепи, кафтан, удавку, древесную тяжесть: пусти, пусти! Что, что в имени тебе моем? Зачем кружится ветр в овраге? чего, ну чего тебе надобно, старче? Что ты жадно глядишь на дорогу? Что тревожишь ты меня? скучно, Нина! Достать чернил и плакать! Отворите мне темницу! Иль мне в лоб шлагбаум влепит непроворный инвалид? Я здесь! Я невинен! Я с вами! Я с вами!" (Sorry for the long Russian quote. I love it so much, but it was too much to translate while still preserving the beauty of the original. Usually, I translate the quotes from the books I read in Russian myself, but this one was too much for me to tackle.)

  • Matthias
    2019-02-11 02:49

    No matter which way you look at it, The Slynx is a strange and furtive creature. Concocted by an obscure descendant of one of the Greats, this beast possesses a significance we instinctively fear. We feel it lodged in our bones, we feel it slithering between the tiny hairs on our arms and on the back of our necks, we feel it gnawing at the base of our minds, we feel it cocooning in our hearts. Some brave readers set out on the expedition to find its lair. A few came back, wide-eyed with wonder and with many a tale to tell. As a valiant voyager, I too wanted to glimpse this shadow. Hiding beyond the barren Siberian plains in a forest thick with thorns and teeth, it shrieked its name. Slyyynx. Slyyyynx. Ignoring my misgivings I set out to follow the cry that would lead me to its den. My journey had a promising start. I found a guide, a quirky fellow by the name of Benedikt, who was as endearing as he was eccentric. His childlike candor was refreshing and as he pointed out the finer points of the dystopia he was living in I became enraptured by the sights and intrigued by this post-apocalyptic society. The mutants that inhabit it, some of them immortal firebreathing Oldeners from before the Blast, added colour to the grim painting of a fledgling economy based on dry weeds and rodents. Unfortunately, Benedikt lost the way at some point. He got drunk on rusht, started uttering experimental jibberish disguised as meaningful metaphors and ran in circles, widening, but never going anywhere. I completely lost sight of him, got word that he married rich and developed an all-consuming passion for books, but couldn't make heads or tails of it all. The last thing I heard was that he was close to a fire that basically destroyed almost everything and everyone around him. The reasons for the fire remain unclear, much like everything else. Others, maybe more well-read russophiles, can perhaps make sense of Benedikt's ramblings, which probably have a significant connection with Russian history. I, on the other hand, find myself confined to a wonderment whether or not I dreamt it all. And the Slynx? I never found it. Worse still, I can no longer hear its lonely shriek.

  • karen
    2019-02-01 04:40

    i have a long and troubled relationship with the russians. for years i didnt want to read them, because i felt that i wouldnt understand them with their troubled political history, their interchangeable names, their fucking ability to endure that is so intimidating and making-me-small-feeling. and then i read bulgakov. and i felt a little more confident.... then i got a little older and i thought... maybe im ready for some dostoevsky... and then i wondered what i had been so worried about, because it was all so accessible. then in my twenties i read kurkov, solzhenitsyn, nabokov, makine, zamyatin, chekhov... i have been around the russian block, my friends... and yet... theres still this barrier between us. i feel like there is so much subtext i am just missing... that unless you are russian, there is something gently exclusionary about the writing - that you could know all there is to know about russia and its history and its peoples and still - this is not intended for you. anyway, this book was very good but im sure that a real russian would appreciate it in some more deeply personal way than i ever could.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-01-30 22:49

    This exceptional little pearl should go straight atop your reading list, knocking off that willowy story collection, those fat-arsed historical doorstoppers, and that free verse thing carved into tree bark. Get rid of them all. Put them in a glorious bonfire and read this instead.The granddaughter of Leo T has all the talent of her antecedent, cribbing also the mordant wit of Bulgakov, the lyrical euphony of Nabokov, the despairing glamour of Zamyatin. The Slynx is a first-rate novel on all fronts: original and captivating in its form, succulent and rib-tickling in its prose, dark and prophetic in its subtext, sutured together with sugary feasts of stylistic invention that would make even the illiterate smile.A book about now, about the past, about the future—this book time travels, this book inhabits the fourth dimension. Read it now.

  • Aubrey
    2019-01-29 23:55

    Let him stand there strong and safe, his legs in chains, head in the clouds, his face to the south, to the endless steppe, to the far-off dark blue seas.I am absolutely convinced that everyone must read this book. Unfortunately, unlike that other book I said the same of, Les Misérables, I have no great moral undertakings or social justice to spur readers forward with. No musical either. Not even a movie. Instead, I have an old review, a few big name references, and ah yes. Logos. Lots of that, as per usual.By the way, the ‘old’ review is a little more than two years in longevity, and is the type of construct that doesn’t astound me, per se, as much as give me the feeling of, huh. Younger self wasn’t as nearly as lost or confused or failing in general as I thought. Good job, younger self. I can still feel you in there, somewhere, much as Benedikt near the end of the book still has the essence of Benedikt at the beginning of the book. I do hope my evolving into my current self wasn’t nearly as, well, how did you put it, younger self....the progression the main character goes from man to monster. 1984 has nothing on how easily he slips into the mindset of what he fears above all else…the transition beautiful in its slick descent…Let me reiterate: good job, younger self.The mention of 1984 reminds me that there is a book here waiting patiently to slynx its way into future brains and diabolical temperaments of the literature kind, so let’s get some of the standard dry stuff out of the way, shall we, in the form of stating that this is a Russian dystopic novel. I’m going to let that simmer while I expound on what that actually means for us, the readers, during our journey through said novel, a novel so subsumed in the mind of the character, the character so melded with their world, the world so saturated in that feeling of, yes, this is life after the destruction when the wisps of culture flurrying down are starting to collide with the aborted imaginative risings of the populace, that you have to wonder where Tatyana Tolstaya got that time machine, and more importantly, how the hell she made her way back in both time and prose.Although the truth of the matter is, you take one look at said Benedikt character, the star of this post-apocalyptic tragi-comedy as only the Russians can write them, and you know it’s all the author. As put by younger self:It is much more concerned with the mentality of the populace, the complete ignorance and great practicality the denizens of this fallout zone are capable of.Too true. And this practicality does not include putting the mind down with pen with any measure of accuracy or skill. However, I wish to add that Benedikt is a special type, prone in his words to being ‘newrottick’ and an especial victim of ‘feelosophy’, where all the raucously hilarious ignorance and practicality cannot save him when his mind, ever grasping onto reality with conjectures and explanations and densely woven meanderings of thought, begins to shiver in the dark under an eye unseen. Fear is the price of imagination, and Benedikt has been cursed to wander a realm where esoteric political discussions trickle down through the mouths of radiation-stricken immortals, culture has schizophrenicked into scraps and bits of precious knowledge that where not lost are laughably, horribly misunderstood, and the only solution to the excess of imagination is a book. This book. This book describes the addiction to literature I have in excruciating detail. It makes me appreciate the wealth of knowledge I have in comparison to the main character, for what is reading if you don't understand it?Indeed, younger self. Indeed. For Benedikt is not only driven by the tentacles of his neurons towards an item that his civilization has the most complex relations with of any object (someone along the line read 1984 and began to fear Freethinking and all its delicious growths, also known as the Illness, more deadly than radioactivity and guaranteed to get you ‘treatment’), there’s a good chance he has photographic memory. For him, a book is as good as a shot of the purest cocaine, as easily reused once the silt has slipped the vein and bounded amongst the blood, and far, far less easy to replenish. When he has it, he has all the abject lack of caring of the mentality most indebted to Brave New World, and reality fades to a speck in the corner of that lack. When he doesn’t, oh. As said previously, 1984 cannot even begin to compare.And in the words of Benedikt, mor-allity? He knows the Law of Everyone’s a Thief, he knows the Comedic Game of Broken Limbs and Injuries Stopping Short at Death, he knows the Governmental Approach to Dirty, Grimy Golbuchiks with books, precious books hidden away in their dank and filthy izbas, sitting, molding, rotting, handled by ignorance and by fear. He functions along emotions that barely register in his mind and thought patterns that strain at genius with the tools of a haphazard enlightenment that has only a decrepit world and blind society to work with.But mor-allity? Can you eat it without dying? Drink it? Use it to catch mice aka staplehood of stable exchange of goods? Well then, what use is it? Golbuchiks? Golbuchiks are ashes, entrails, dung, stove smoke, clay, and they’ll all return to clay. They’re full of dirt, candle oil, droppings, dust.You, O Book, my pure, shining precious, my golden singing promise, my dream, a distant call— O tender specter, happy chance, Again I heed the ancient lore, Again with beauty rare in stance, You beckon from the distant shore!Benedikt will discover just what use it is. And you, reader who has ridden along in his mind and, as a lover of books, can empathize with the slow change and maybe perhaps further along the increasingly gory path than you wished, can follow. You’ll laugh at the antics, to be sure. But there’s so much more to the tragi-comedy for a lover of literature for one such as yourself, if you can bear to look.---Younger self's review:(7/5/11)This book. This book describes the addiction to literature I have in excruciating detail. It makes me appreciate the wealth of knowledge I have in comparison to the main character, for what is reading if you don't understand it? Also, post apocalyptic at its best. No drowning in scientific garble describing the desiccated toxic surroundings. It is much more concerned with the mentality of the populace, the complete ignorance and great practicality the denizens of this fallout zone are capable of. You never find out much of what exactly happened, but frankly, that's not what counts here.What counts is the progression the main character goes from man to monster. 1984 has nothing on how easily he slips into the mindset of what he fears above all else, all for the sake of the written word. God forbid books be as scarce and prized as they are in this world; one could hope they were valued in the real world as much as they are in this novel, but it's frightening to consider the consequences.In addition to the transition beautiful in its slick descent are the emotional overtones, the hilarious vulgarity juxtaposed with the overwhelming depression that surfaces every so often. It is loss conveyed at its best, despair over having lost a world of light and having to grind out an existence among the remains; worst of all being able to feel the emotion but not be able to comprehend the reason behind it.A very good read. Will definitely get you thinking, if nothing else.

  • Megha
    2019-02-19 22:55

    The Pace of Modern Life [xkcd] -- In 1871, someone expressed concern about how the art of letter-writing was fast dying out. In 1895, someone was worried about how the hurry and excitement of modern life was causing mental and nervous degeneration. In 1907, there was concern about every individual's head being buried in a magazine while they sat together as a family. Now a days, of course, we hear about the curse of the smartphones, 140 character limit on communication and dwindling inter-personal interactions. Yes, time continues to change. People are nostalgic about what is being left behind, there is excitement and apprehension about new developments, people adapt and keep inching forward. But no matter how much life changes, there still are certain aspects of human nature that endure all the way. (If you don't agree, David Mitchell may have something to say to you, and so does Tatyana.)Time keeps moving forward. Except that one time when THE BLAST wiped off the civilization in Moscow and set the clock backwards. People were reduced to a very primitive lifestyle, hunting mice for food. Appliance manuals became relics of the past. Ignorance was rampant. The concepts of free thinking, feelings and morality were alien. What did survive was man's greed and hunger for power. There remained major class differences and a huge imbalance in wealth distribution. While those in positions of power fed themselves well, they followed the motto Keep them hungry. Keep them foolish. when it came to the general population. In The Slynx, Tatyana plays out a struggle between man's desire for finer things in life and eager-to-overpower vices. Benedikt, the protagonist, one of the commoners, often found himself overwhelmed with anguish and a longing for he didn't know what. There was something he wanted for, but it was too much for his simple mind to understand what that could be or how to escape this feeling."But in Novemeber the rains start falling and just keep on and on and on - eeeeee!. Everything is murky between heaven and earth, and your soul is clouded over too! The roof leaks if it's thin; cold and damp blow in through the cracks. You cover the window with rags, you slump closer to the stove, or doze on the stove bed, and something inside cries, and keeps on crying!"He found an answer when a life-changing twist put him in the company of books. His spirits lifted as he devoured them. So was that it? Was this refinement, a better intellectual and emotional life what he had been desperate for? Tatyana's answer to this is a pessimistic one. Once he was through all the books, the baser instincts that were dormant in him rose up. No, art couldn't win over his pre-disposition. A simpleton gradually transformed into something grotesque. It was rather impressive how convincingly the author handled this transformation (someone please tell George Orwell).There is much to love about The Slynx. When you think of a post-apocalyptic setting, you immediately imagine a bleak world swaddled in fifty shades of grey. The Slynx, on the contrary, is charming, imaginative, humorous and colorful. The people are endearing despite their naive, crude and often brutal manners. Nikita elicits sorrow with his attempts to keep the past alive, to hold on to the bare threads. Some of my favorite moments were when Benedikt would feel the hand of the Slynx tap him on the shoulder and a dreary feeling would dawn over him. The times when he would dream of dissolving into the world beyond what he had seen, but lacking in imagination would fail to put a picture together. And Benedikt feeling sad when the fox gobbled up the Gingerbread Man in the story - how heartwarming was that!It's a shame that I couldn't connect better with this book. I can hardly find anything wrong with it. Just that for more than half the book, Tatyana only builds the setting, establishing and re-establishing the same ideas. By the time the story switched gears in the second half, it was too late. I had already kind of checked out by then.But really, don't mind the three stars. This book ought to be read and adored.______________________________Book-jacket Trivia: Tatyana Tolstaya is a great-grandniece of Leo Tolstoy.

  • Josh
    2019-02-13 21:52

    Besides the meaning of the word "horripilating" ("the erection of hairs on the skin due to cold, fear or excitement"), found on the chocolate-and-lime backmatter of this book's NYRB edition, reading Tolstoya's vision of civilization's hilarious, underwhelming ashes gave me a feeling of gratitude, and also anger that the ostensible genre of this book will allow people to compare it to mechanic nightmares like 1984 and Animal Farm, or even the killer, terrorizing Road. But Russians don't do genre - or rather, all they do is genre, meaning all they do is take the various over-used urinals of western literature and transform them into cornucopias (that's pollen on your hands) so blooming and fetid that closing their covers you feel like Big Anthony sitting on Strega Nona's pot. Lucky boy. Lucky, neckerchief-wearing boy. Or maybe you like books that stop when you say enough? If so, stay away from the Slynx, which is not just a parable so much as a parable that destroys parables (like an evil-mirror version of Mandelstam's reading of Dante's Divine Comedy, in which the terza rima is compared to an airplane that makes airplanes) by reminding us that if we think of literature as a video game whose levels are played once and then played out, instead of a forest whose rocks are things before they stand for things, we will forget how to read. You have to start with the alphabet. The way you learn that is the way you learn the rest. And, as always, beware ye readers the readers of the world.

  • Hadrian
    2019-02-10 02:40

    This was a very Russian dystopia novel, and a fun one at that. Nuclear war, myths, mutations, hallucinations, philosophy, and lots of good reading.The Slynx is very funny at first reading, but there are some sad and rather worrying truths behind it.

  • Jacob
    2019-02-10 00:28

    February 2009You expect post-apocalyptic fiction to be depressing. You expect dystopias to be bleak. The words "wickedly funny" do not usually come to mind. But in The Slynx, a story of Moscow set two hundred years after The Blast destroyed civilization, life is not quite what it seems to be. The people don't really deserve to be enlightened, and the thought police are almost justified; at least, books aren't the thing to worry about. Just thank Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe, that you have fire. Oh, and make sure to check your rabbit before you eat it. The males won't kill you, but they'll cause no end of trouble. Why don't you stick with mice?I can't praise NYRB (New York Review Books) enough for publishing this. It's raucous and bawdy fun all around--only, like most Russian novels, one reading isn't going to be enough. This is a clever and complex little tale, and this golubchik may have missed some things...

  • Isidora
    2019-02-19 02:27

    I would give ten stars to this book, if I could. It is innovative, funny and frightening and I loved it.The title of the book, Slynx, is an invented word. There are many such words in this book set up in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, two hundred years after civilization ended in an event known as the Blast. People born after the Blast are deprived of any contemporary commodities and live in a wild land, most of them marked by mutations which they call Consequences. They live mostly on mice and use them as currency and a measure of things. Life is full of fear of unnamed Disease and moreover of mysterious screeching creature Slynx from the woods. Freethinking is forbidden as well as printed books from before the Blast, but there are few Survivors who recall the world as it used to be. In such degraded world lives Benedikt, the narrator, luckily free of mutations and with enough mice to eat and trade on. His travel starts with a comfortable job of transcribing books from the past, but then goes on along the dangerous path of change. Reading, art and real books (yes, “The Slynx” is a tribute to art and literature) flip his world upside down and forces a new beginning. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I was just blown away by its surrealism and originality. Tatjana Tolstaya is a brilliant, skilled writer. Her wonderful prose is dark and funny at the same time. Behind the fun, I ended up worried by book’s prophesy.

  • Zach
    2019-02-08 02:40

    Here is a paragraph from this book:After the entrance there were more corridors and the sweet smell grew nearer. Glancing upward, Benedikt clasped his hands: books! The shelves were packed with books! Lord Almighty! Saints alive! his knees gave way, he trembled and whined softly: you couldn't read them all in a whole lifetime! A forest of pages, an endless, indiscriminate blizzard, uncounted! Ah...! Ah!!! Aaaaa! Maybe... just maybe... somewhere here... maybe the secret book is here somewhere! The book that tells you how to live, where to go, where to guide the heart! Maybe Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe, has found it, and is already reading it: he jumps up on the bed quick as a wink, and just reads and reads! He went and found it, the monster, and he's reading it!! The tyrant! Shit!Seriously, could someone with a kindle tell me how many exclamation points are in this book? (can kindles do that?)*Anyway it's 200 years after "the Blast" (nuclear war) ended civilization as we know it and we're in Moscow and everything is decrepit and falling apart and covered in mud and the bureaucracy controls everything and life, as it turns out, isn't that different, which seems to be Tolstaya's point.Plot? There isn't one.* While you're at it, why not count the words "whoa" and "yikes" too?

  • [P]
    2019-01-25 00:33

    I am a butcher. Only I don’t work with meat, I work with words. Cutting, slicing, trimming. All for Vladimir, the great and powerful, and The Good Russian People. Give me War & Peace and I’ll hand you back a pamphlet. That’s progress, comrades. When they gave me the job they said that I would be serving my country by preventing the spread or dissemination of dangerous materials. Most people don’t realise how dangerous literature is. They focus too much on bombs and guns, and forget all about the clever metaphor. No one ever dropped a clever metaphor on a village of women and children, they say. Well, that means I’m doing my job properly. They’ll give me the Order of Lenin one day, no doubt. Recently I’ve been working on The Slynx. Cutting, slicing, trimming. It’s hard work, comrades. First, you have to read the book several times. You don’t want to miss anything, to let anything through that ought not to get through. Vladimir, the great and powerful, would not to be pleased. And when Vladimir is not pleased someone gets it. I thought about the title for a long time. Slynx. What is it? What does it mean? Is it some kind of code? According to Tolstaya, who wrote the book, it is a strange, mysterious creature that grew out of the nuclear explosion that has, in a sense, created the world that she describes. Well, ultimately I decided to get rid of it. The title, I mean. You can’t be too careful. I renamed the book The Sensible Adventures of Comrade Benedikt. There are a lot of weird creatures in the book; mutants, I guess you would call them. One woman has multiple cockscombs; there is a man with ears all over his body; another man can breathe fire. Tolstaya calls these defects or mutations Consequences. While I wasn’t too entertained by all that – in fact I found it rather silly and distracting – I let it go. I saw nothing in it to corrupt The Good Russian People. You have to be careful not to censor too much, otherwise our citizens will have nothing to read, to keep them busy and stop them from thinking for themselves. Stop Worrying, Let Vladimir Think For You, goes the popular slogan. Oldeners are people who were born before the blast, and survived it. They remember. Memory, comrades, is perhaps our most potent weapon. Sometimes I meet someone who can recall the original books, before I got my hands on them. ‘Where is the rest of it?’ they say.’ It’s all there, comrade,’ I reply. ‘My arse it is!’ they say, ‘I know something about books, comrade, and I can tell you that there is a character in this one called Bazarov.’ We were talking about Turgenev, of course. ‘And yet, now there is no Bazarov!’ I told him that he was imagining things. Bazarov! You made that up, comrade. Whoever heard of such a name, you silly shit! The problem with post-apocalyptic literature is that it is, generally speaking, not half as clever or inventive as the author thinks it is. Take The Slynx, for example. The blast has left people mutated, with strange powers? Ok then. And these people are ignorant of what existed before the blast? Dandy. The ignorant ones make mistakes about, mispronounce or misunderstand the things that existed before the blast, so that morality becomes more-allity, for example. Well. Let’s be honest, all this is pretty standard stuff, you really expect this sort of thing, it’s a formula. I once worked on Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, comrades, and I can tell you that The Slynx is very similar indeed. Very similar! Now, I’m not a writer myself, you know, I’m an editor, and being an editor I know something about authorial decisions, so to speak. If I could have spoken to Tolstaya I would have said, ‘comrade, does your book have to be so similar to other books of the same sort? Isn’t doing something that has been done many times before, with only minimal changes, rather pointless, in fact? ’ And she’d probably turn up her nose at me or laugh or call me an unpleasant name, like Kulak, but I would be right, of course. And she’d probably point out to me that The Slynx is a satire, that the ignorant masses are meant to represent our own ignorant masses, The Good Russian People. Sure, sure. But then I would likewise point out to citizen Tolstaya that satire, or allegory, is itself the province of the lazy and unimaginative, because it is necessarily obvious, otherwise the nincompoops wouldn’t get it. Take Kapek’s War with the Newts [which I wittled down to a still generous 30 pages], in which human beings colonise a race of newts. Well, the newts are, of course, meant to represent all the races or peoples that we have attempted to colonise ourselves. And one has to ask oneself, well, what was the point of that? It is as though satire allows you to do really obvious things, to make points even a child would grasp, just because you’ve changed humans to newts. No, comrades. If you want to want to write about colonisation, do so; it is artistic cowardice to hide behind a bunch of lizards. What elevates The Slynx is the narrative voice, which is buoyant and charismatic, although somewhat naïve and simple-minded, like Hucklebery Finn after a hard blow to the head. It is such a charming voice, albeit strongly reminiscent of Bohumil Hrabal or even Gogol. Hrabal was a Czech novelist whom Vladimir, the great and powerful, despises. I once let one of his novels through, with major cuts of course, and Vladimir got so angry he punched a bear square in the face. That wasn’t very nice, if I may say so. Aleksy, the bear, wasn’t expecting it, having agreed to a wrestling not a boxing match. One of the hardest parts of my job is managing humour. It is very easy to ruin a funny book if you make too many alterations. For example, you might leave in three quarters of a joke and expunge the punchline. And that is bad. A joke without a punchline is like an army without a general. The Slynx, I must confess, is very funny indeed. It is not a sophisticated humour, because sophisticated humour is not actually funny, I’ve found. Sophisticated humour makes you smile, often with only one half of your mouth. Real humour, on the other hand, draws ugly sounds from your throat. I made some very conspicuous noises when reading this book. Fortunately, I work alone, and so no one would have heard me, except the spiders in the corners, and spiders won’t denounce you if you laugh at the wrong thing, comrades. For example, I was much amused by the izba where you pick up your wages by putting your hand in a narrow hole and grabbing what you can, hopefully without injuring your hand or arm too much, while the hole where you pay your taxes is wide, spacious and unlikely to harm you. I had to get rid of all that, obviously, but it did make me chuckle. I liked the Degenerators too. They are a kind of workhorse, hairy but with human features and the ability to speak. They pull troikas and sleighs. They are foul-mouthed too. I imagine that they are the peasantry, the Muzhiks in Tolstaya’s world. Of course anything to do with the peasantry had to go, which is a shame as I think you would have got a kick out of the Degenerators. Sometimes I will cut something but save it for myself. This is foul weakness in me, I know. At home I have a scrapbook full of pages, quotes and phrases that are likely to unsettle The Good Russian People and lead them towards uselessness and a lack of right-thinking consciousness. I, however, as a government employee, am immune to that horrible potentiality. So I kept a little something from The Slynx.* I would also have liked to have taken home all the parts and pages about the recreation of culture, which obviously I had to eradicate, but I considered that too much of a risk. The Oldeners, if you recall, can remember life before the blast, and so they yearn for a return to that way of life. One of them, Nikita Ivanich, puts up signs to indicate what and where certain places used to be. I found that rather moving. He has Benedikt carve a wooden statue of Pushkin too, in an attempt to reconnect with the past. Of course, in our beloved Rus we are always surging towards the glorious future, a future helmed by Vladimir, the great and powerful, so this kind of soft peasant sentimentality is just not on. I’m ashamed, I tell you, but there was something in this retracing, this desire to remake a lost world – the manners, the monuments etc – that got to me, that made me blub, bub. I guess Tolstaya is making a serious point too, about how humanity is drawn towards culture, how we strive towards it. We need books and art, I guess. There is a lot written about literature in The Slynx. There are also numerous quotations throughout the text, mostly from our Russian writers. In my time, I see around me a weird kind of fetishisation of books in particular, where people will loaf in shops smelling and caressing them. And of course this is classless decadence, but when you consider that citizen Tolstaya is Russian, and that people like me have censored works of literature for many years, her characters’ obsessions with books doesn’t seem so odd. For The Good Russian People a book is not just something you pick up at the store because H.R.H. Oprah Winfrey has had it stickered. You do not pass it on to your neighbour simply because you know that she likes brutal murders and bondage hanky-panky. A book is a statement, it is a kind of protest. It is, in short, a serious business. We Russians, at least, understand this. You do not suppress something unless you recognise its power, comrades.---*This is what I kept:“I only wanted books—nothing more—only books, only words, it was never anything but words—give them to me, I don’t have any! Look, see, I don’t have any! Look, I’m naked, barefoot, I’m standing before you—nothing in my pants pockets, nothing under my shirt or under my arm! They’re not stuck in my beard! Inside—look—there aren’t any inside either—everything’s been turned inside out, there’s nothing there! Only guts! I’m hungry! I’m tormented!…”

  • Oana Brustur
    2019-02-10 05:49

    Distopie + umor + parabola = Genialitate!Tu, Carte! Numai tu nu înşeli, nu loveşti, nu superi, nu părăseşti! Eşti liniştită, dar râzi, ţipi, cânţi;eşti supusă, dar uimeşti, aţâţi, ademeneşti; eşti mică, dar în tine sunt popoare fără număr; un pumn de litere, dar, dacă vrei, zăpăceşti pe oricine, îl învârţi cum vrei, îl încurci, faci lacrimile să ţâşnească, tai răsuflarea, sufletul întreg nu e decât o pânză ce flutură în vânt, face valuri, dă din aripi! Şi în piept parcă ti se zvârcoleşte o senzaţie inexprimabilă, bate cu pumnii în uşi, în pereţi: mă sufoc! Dă-mi drumul! Dar cum să-i dai drumul aşa, goală, aspră? În ce cuvinte s-o îmbraci? Nu avem cuvinte, nu le cunoaştem! Suntem ca animalele sălbatice, ca mincinorbii, ca rusalcele — nu avem cuvinte, ci doar un fel de strigăt! Deschizi însă o carte şi iată-le, cuvintele, divine, zburătoare.

  • Cher
    2019-01-27 04:33

    2.5 stars which officially and technically shall translate to "I liked it...a little bit". You know those old fashioned wooden roller coasters at small county fairs - that is what reading this book was for me. It took a while to get started and once it got going there were small thrills but mainly bumpy ups and downs with jolting turns, and at the end of the ride I was a bit disenchanted and bored. It never bodes well when you get excited that you only have X% or pages remaining. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult of a book this was to translate. There was a lot of play on words and lyrical prose at times, many relying on rhymes. Again, it had to be extremely difficult to stay true to the author's writing and translate with the same effects.While this book was unpredictable, I discovered that unpredictable does not guarantee goodness. However, I did enjoy, and always enjoy, when authors display the precariousness of a government that overreaches and limits liberties. Towards the end of the book when Benedict and Father-in-law were arguing and FIL literally said, "Nanny nanny foo foo" I was caught off guard by their puerile behavior. It goes without saying this statement was also inaccurate. Everyone knows it is Nanny nanny boo boo, stick your head in doo doo. But then I realized that most modern societies (ahem, America) today also have politicians that are caught saying or doing shameful things and in general acting like petulant toddlers throwing a temper tantrum. Why do we allow such childish people to be in positions of power over us, let alone to limit our liberties??Favorite quotes: Life is better when you've got a dream, and sleep is sweeter. AND If you feed and feed people, and keep on feeding them, they'll stop working. You'll be the only one sweating, all for them. AND Water and fire don't mix, they can't. Except, of course, when people stand watching a fire and the flames lap in their eyes in water, reflected.First sentence: Benedikt pulled on his felt boots, stomped his feet to get the fit right, checked the damper on the stove, brushed the bread crumbs onto the floor--for the mice--wedged a rag in the window to keep out the cold, stepped out the door, and breathed the pure, frosty air in through his nostrils.

  • Kathryn
    2019-01-27 03:51

    I have little experience with Russian literature but what I have so far read, I have enjoyed immensely. I hope people with similar tastes as me do not read this book as their first foray into Russian literature. They might never return.Before mentioning my complaints, I will say that I respect Tolstaya's creativity. The world she created was at times interesting.The issues I have with this book are numerous and more than I am willing to cover here so I am providing a short list...that was not sarcasm...The story does not take off until roughtly a third of the way through, instead stagnating in little glimpses of a new world. I did not appreciate the humor, overall. Maybe since I am not Russian? I do not necessarily believe that but the only other options include my lack of sense of humor, possibly the author's lack of sense of humor...you get the picture. My humor and the author's humor might as well be separated by galaxies as by our respective countries. The humor was not subtle and too much along the lines of wink-wink-nudge-nudge for me.The characters drove me nutts, being juvenile, ignorant, coarse, unsympathetic, and simplistic, among other stellar qualities. I realize this was intentional but I still feel the same.The author's tactic of using exclamation points in every other sentence was annoying! I might be exaggerating a little, depending on the passage! This book has also created within me a newfound hate for the word yikes! Yikes! Repetition ruled. As a reader, I dislike it when an author does not trust me enough to pick up on something the first go around, let alone the fourth or fifth go around.Kablukov's letters to the masses made me cringe. Severely.I think the author tried too hard to be witty, to include in as many frightfully slick ways as possible a great deal of poetry and quotes which I would normaly be thrilled to see interwoven within a story. I know these inclusions are a high point for people who enjoyed the book but I do not feel the same.I cannot recommend this book. It happens to be one of my least favorite books ever.

  • El
    2019-02-14 02:34

    Moscow. Some 200 years after "the Blast", a vague sort of accident that turns life as we know it into a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Most of the characters don't even seem to know what "the Blast" was, or what life was like before it occurred, or how to return to a civilized life. They are controlled by their government now (oh, how I love you, Russian literature) under the strict ruling of the tyrant, Fyodor Kuzmich, Glorybe. His decrees are law, and Freethinkers are not allowed - anyone caught Freethinking will be taken away by red-robed figures called Saniturions who ride around searching for those with the "Illness".Benedikt is the narrator. He is a copier of the decrees and lives in mortal fear of Illness. He does what he is supposed to do and does not stray, just as a good "Golubchick" (or comrade) should. He lives on mice as others do, not only as a source of sustenance but also as a form of currency. There are those who specifically survived the Blast - the Oldeners - who have secret libraries hidden away. If found, they would be accused of Freethinking and of course the Saniturions would come and take them away. It is one of the Oldeners who introduces Benedikt to his collection of books which in turn flips Benedikt's life upside down. He becomes obsessed with books and with reading, and his world views change as well. He finds himself on a dangerous path requiring him to take down the tyrant and begin a new government.This is a fabulous book, as both a dystopian/post-apocalyptic story (right down to mutations!) as well as a wonderful portrayal of Russian tyranny. The idea that books are sort of a mental gateway drug (ie, Freethinking) is amusing to me; the story is filled with darkly amusing aspects such as this, creating a nice satire to read in this snowy-freaking-wonderland.

  • Joaco
    2019-02-06 21:49

    I came into this book completely blind. Other than reading the description from GR and the fact that the author was a descendant from Tolstoy, I knew nothing else. However, this was a gamble I was willing to take since I really liked its post apocalyptic setting.The gamble paid off. Extraordinarily.I was expecting some high brow critique at communism and its totalitarian rule. Even if that is present throughout the book, there are many more things tightly packed in such a short novel. There is also a fierce critique to the intelligentsia and their uncommitted attitude; satire running through all characters actions when they show themselves too stupid to understand the past the "oldeners" talk about; a gloomy perspective on everyday life but with a hopeful, redeeming, ending.Through Benedikt's character development, Tolstaya gives us a run through of this society which is backwards yet wants to advance, that makes decisions based on a tradition they do not comprehend, suffering the choices between evils and tries to understand the morals of the consequences. All this while making fun of the character which is oblivious to all this as he is a stone age barbarian rediscovering the beauty of books without ever understanding their true meaning.This is a book I wish I had picked up earlier.

  • Nate D
    2019-01-21 22:50

    Even with society collapsed into muddy, decaying near barbarism, philosophy (whatever that is), and freethinking (not allowed), creep in thoughts won't stop, people are joined to0 their forebears (us) by universal thought patterns. For a while, as we follow the yearnings of our protagonist towards better things (dreams, books) amid strange danger and squalor, avoiding the despair-call of the Slynx that strips one of the will to go on, this is really quite wonderful. Then, by (again somewhat universal) social satire patterns, circumstances change to allow greater satiric cross-section, and we lose our protagonist to the mechanisms somewhat. Not that it ever really flags, it just recenters less ideally to my ear. And for a book that is so much about books, what are they here? Avenues into a killing solipsism detached from any of the urgent forces of the world, or worse, driving their own destructive world-forces. A pretty depressing assessment, really, though so much praise to Russian lit is also sung that I'm not sure of the intent there.

  • Anna
    2019-02-02 21:35

    Here be no zombies. A smidgen off perfect, probably one of the best post-apocalyptic books I've read to this day. Intensely amusing at times, and beautifully written overall. Each chapter is introduced by a letter of the Russian alphabet, while the edition also features a small glossary of Russian words, and an index of all the poems quoted within. A gem.

  • Jason Pettus
    2019-02-22 01:28

    (Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].)Ah, those Russian writers -- those crazy, drunken, angst-filled, delightful Russian writers! Mention the phrase "Russian literature" to most Americans, and you're likely to see the same mental images appear again and again; the dense books, the heavy symbolism, the perverse dark humor, and of course the national introspection, always the national introspection, as inherent a part of Russian culture as monster-truck rallies are here in the US. And so it is with Tatyana Tolstaya's blackly funny The Slynx, which has quite the long history behind it: started in 1986 while Russia was still a Soviet state, not finished until 2000 under the equally absurdist Putin administration, now newly reprinted in English form by the publishing wing of the New York Review of Books, not to be confused of course with the 2003 hardback English edition by Houghton Mifflin, which is technically the version that was read for this review. Whew!And indeed, if you're a fan of Russian literature, The Slynx is sure not to disappoint; after all, Tolstaya is no less than the great-grandniece of Leo Tolstoy himself, not to mention one of the most famous intellectuals in contemporary Russia right now because of her popular television interview show "The School for Scandal." Set 200 years in the future, the novel is basically a farce on modern politics masquerading as a dystopian science-fiction story, a tale in which a mysterious event from the past known only as "the Blast" has rendered the city of Moscow back into a peasant-village-like state, with most of its citizens having no recollection of a civilized past and no idea how to recreate such a thing even if they wanted. It's a world where people have literally forgotten how to make fire, yet have somehow retained all the red-tape of the old Soviet bureaucracy; a place where mice have become the national currency, a place where people stand in line for hours for no reason at all, to receive nothing at all, because "that's the way government works."Throughout the novel we follow one of these "golubchiks" in detail, Benedikt the Decree Copying Man, whose job is to hand-copy the purloined works of their current leader (Fyodor Kuzmich Glorybe), who in typical style has re-named the city after himself, and lives in the crumbling remains of Red Square. And in fact as we follow the travails of our mentally challenged hero, we discover that a surprisingly large amount of 20th-century Russian life still remains in post-apocalyptic Moscow, only twisted now into black-comedy proportions, and with the people following these dictates through a combination of superstitious fear and just plain ignorance; how the KGB, for example, are now known as the "Saniturions," traveling the city in sleighs while wearing hooded red robes, confiscating forbidden books from average citizens with a weapon that's curiously sickle-like.In fact, this is one of the most delightful things about The Slynx, is in all the ways modern Russia has been twisted and perverted in this future vision, and special credit needs to be given to translator Jamey Gambrell for the rich English wordplays on display: to cite just one example, how the "degenerates" of our modern times, those in a post-Soviet world who ignorantly long for the old Soviet days, have literally become their own species in the future known as "Degenerators," mostly beasts of burden who are in charge of pulling the sleighs of the upper class, but during their time off still stand around the stables smoking cigarettes and bitching about the good ol' days. The book is full of such sly jabs at contemporary Russian life -- of the old "moozeeums" that are now hated and feared by the general populace, of the genetic mutations each person has on display and are simply known as their "Consequence."But then again...

  • Randolph Carter
    2019-02-20 02:53

    I find this almost impossible to review. Terrifying and humorous at the same time. A post apocalyptic Tsarist-Soviet fantasy. Pieces of Borges, Burgess, Gaiman, Hoban, and Walter Williams come to mind. I laughed my ass off at times.

  • Phillip
    2019-02-01 22:35

    Like Dostoevsky staring into the face of a post-apocalyptic future, The Slynx is a bawdy romp into the interior landscapes of a Russian post-nuclear future. Part folk tale, part sci-fi yarn (not unlike Tarkovsky's Stalker, but cranked up on crystal meth) Tolstaya's language is as giddy as Gogol in Dead Souls and her universal themes are familiar to anyone that has rampaged Russian literature. The unique gift of this novel is really Tolstaya's sense of humor and her urgent prose.

  • Hesper
    2019-02-22 01:29

    A hallucination of a book, best explained as a cocktail. Its recipe runs as follows:1 part Allegory of the Cave2 parts Russian folktale2 parts whatever Bosch paintedBuild over a pile of dystopia.Stir and consume, preferably in one sitting.

  • Rowena
    2019-02-21 04:26

    It took me 100 pages to fall in love with this book. At first I was confused by the second-person narrative butting in all the time, and who was telling this story anyway, Benedikt or a brother or who? And the language was so basic and primitive and there was too much text about catching mice and cooking mice and eating mice and trading mice. And what had happened to Tolstoya's dazzling lyrical style of writing?And then around page 100, Benedikt escapes poverty, his basic hut, his mice for dinner and marries the girl he's been after for years, Olenka. And he moves in with her nutty, affluent family, and he has everything he's always wanted, the girl, all the food he can eat, a lovely home. But he becomes dissatisfied, because suddenly life feels empty. And he starts to fill this void by reading books.In this strange world, after 'the blast' books are banned, the common folk believe they are poisonous and that you'll die if you touch one. But Benedikt discovers that the more he reads, the more he wants to know, that the real 'illness is human ignorance'. Tolstoya has built a fascinating dystopian world, with an oppressive government controlling the people through culture and fear. As Benedikt learns and grows, Tolstoya's prose also becomes more articulate, and it becomes obvious that those pared-back first 100 pages were a clever technique that she employed. There are some great humorous moments that had me chuckling out loud; Olenka lying in bed calling out to Benedikt to come and make love and her dad shouting out 'Lie down and wait. We're having a governmental conversation! About worldviews!' Or when Benedikt and his father-in-law are writing a decree ordering no more than three people can gather together. 'And what if there are six people in a family? Or seven?' Benedikt asks. ... 'Then let them fill out a form, pay a fine, and get permission.' his father-in-law says. It highlights the absurd and random nature of strict 'governmental approaches' through the ages.There's so much to say really, but I'll just leave you with this excerpt ...'You, Book! You are the only one who won't deceive, won't attack, won't insult, won't abandon! You're quiet - but you laugh, shout, and sing: you're obedient - but you amaze, tease, and entice; you're small, but you contain countless peoples. Nothing but a handful of letters, that's all, but if you feel like it, you can turn heads, confuse, spin, cloud, make tears spring to the eyes, take away the breath, the entire soul will stir in the wind like a canvas, will rise in waves and flap its wings!'

  • Troy
    2019-02-01 04:25

    This is a hilarious book; a dystopia beautifully written and filled with endless imagination. I don't even know what to say about it... I'm still digesting it. The writing is as fantastic, inventive and clever as the world that Tatyana Tolstaya contructs. This dystopia happens after The Blast, which brought about a new Dark Age, filled with extreme ignorance, radiation poisoning that has mutated everything (poisonous black rabbits fly from tree to tree, kittens have trunks and fingers, and every human has a Consequence, which is typically some gross deformity). The world has been bombed back to the Stone Age: the wheel has just been "invented" by the Divine Leader, Fyodor Kusmich, Glorybe (and Fyodor Kusmich, Gloybe's first appearance in the book is a comedic gem). Mice form the basis of life; they are the staple food and double as money. Along with mice, worrums and rusht fill the majority of everyone's diet (and rusht sounds like a mutated potato (and it also makes a nice alcoholic drink)). The frozen muddy village were the book takes place was once called Moscow, but is now called Fyodor-Kusmich (Glorybe to Him).The main character is an idiot named Benedikt who, like all good comedic characters, never really changes. He transcribes books, and eventually gets some book-learning and becomes obsessed - ridiculously so - with books, but he never actually learns anything. The book is full of retarded gems, like the current version of "leap frog," which is climbing on top of the stove and diving on top of some random person, wrestler-style - and hey, if someone breaks a rib or loses an eye, it's even funnier. That said, this book is very Russian. I know almost all of the references and dark political and cultural jabs sailed over my head. I got some basic KGB references, and maybe spotted Stalin and the groups who want a return to an aristocracy, but most of it reminded me of reading Mad Magazine when I was a little kid - I loved the pictures and the stories and it always made me laugh, but I knew it was about adult things that I simply didn't understand.I forgot how great literary or experimental sci-fi can be. It's perfect for farce, and a great vehicle for clever and biting literature (and it allows for a lot of formal experimentation). Anyway, if you like dark sci-fi, or funny dystopias, or good fantastic writing, this book is for you.

  • Ema
    2019-02-04 04:45

    This is a truly wonderful book, I fell in love with the story! I haven't read many dystopian novels, but I'm sure that, in a couple of years, The Slynx will be considered one of the best from this genre. So you should read it before it becomes a "classic". :)It's the only novel of Tatyana Tolstaya, a Russian writer who is remotely related to Leo Tolstoy. Not his great-grandniece, but still. Her paternal grandfather was Aleksei Nikolaevich Tolstoi, also an important writer.There are many invented words in this novel, including the title The Slynx/Kys/Zâtul, so the translators surely had a tough job with this one. I avoided learning Russian in school (I chose French and English instead), so this is the only time I feel sorry for it, as it might have been a great experience to read the original. Benedikt, the hero, lives in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, now a village called Fyodor-Kuzmichsk. The Blast, a mysterious event that happened 200 years ago, erased all modern progress and mankind was thrown into a near savage-like state once again. Yet, there are a couple of survivors from the Blast (the Oldeners and the Degenerators), people who have known the world as it used to be, while those who were born afterwards suffer Consequences (physical mutations) of all sorts. The golubchiks/gugustiucii (as they call themselves) have almost no modern commodity, they don't even know how to make fire. And they feed mostly on mice, which are considered the basis of poor people's lives (mice are also used as currency). People have all kind of fears and superstitions: books that survived the Blast are considered dangerous, they avoid Freethinking and are scared to death by the Slynx, an invisible monster who lives in the woods. People are also afraid of the unmentionable Disease, which will bring the Saniturions in order to "treat" them. As I write this, I remember all the details and I feel like laughing again. It's so funny and imaginative that I was truly amazed. The first half is the best, the latter drags a bit, but it's still a wonderful book.

  • Nathanimal
    2019-02-05 05:32

    "Give black rabbit meat a good soaking, bring it to a boil seven times, set it in the sun for a week or two, then steam it in the oven — and it won't kill you."That is, if you catch a female. Because the male, boiled or not, it doesn't matter. People didn't used to know this, they were hungry and they ate the males too. But now they know: if you eat the males you'll be stuck with a wheezing and a gurgling in your chest the rest of your life. Your legs will wither. Thick black hairs will grow like crazy out of your ears and you'll stink to high heaven."I'm in love with this book already.

  • Ksenia Anske
    2019-02-14 22:37

    Everything you ever wanted to know about Russia is in this book. Everything. (Take it from a Russian.) And what is it, really? A satire. A fable. A fairy tale. A dystopian fantasy with a bit of weirdness. A history. A future. All rolled up neatly into a tale. With a tail. And mice, lots of mice. I'll be rereading this book in both languages many times. The translation is superb. The dialogue will make you pee in your pants. You better believe me.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-05 02:34

    I don't know, I honestly don't.On the one hand, there's this whole trajectory in Russian fiction that seems to me like a second pressing of Gogol, designed for a viewpoint I have a hard time truly understanding, in which the humor doesn't seem quite humorous (even in a dark way) and the references don't land, even if I know exactly what they're talking about. When I read, for example, Andrei Platonov and Yuri Olesha, I felt much the same way.On the other hand, each little description is so emphatic, each point in this weirdly plotless post-apocalyptic novel was such a charm. I don't think this was really for me, but I appreciate that it could be if I'd read it at a different time. I'm putting this on the "try again when I'm 40" shelf.