Kafka, here's a novel whose moorings to reality have been jolted askew. It accompanies a privileged Russian art critic, sometime darling of the government, as he recalls odd memories and experiences strange dreams which begin a bizarre intrusion upon his life until what is real, what is recollection, and what is nightmare are inseparably tangled.
Beyond the enticing strangeness of the story, I was quite impressed by Grushin's unusually descriptive writing. It was beautifully expressive but never trite. Whereas someone might see it as unnecessarily flashy, I reveled in the unique choices of words which resulted in passages that might be favorably compared to a vivid painting.
It seemed to me that Grushin knew just where to draw the line in relating her rich images. If she'd written the entire book with that same intensity, the result would have seemed overblown, diluting the impact of each scene and sapping much of the strength from the novel. Instead, Grushin's adept depictions heightened the dream-like quality of the story, causing time to slow as the reader was drawn in to peer at a minute detail; at the next moment, with a step back and a broader focus, time snaps back into shape.
I was a little bit disappointed that, other than its surreal and illusive nature, the cover art was not more directly related to the story. I'd been looking forward to hearing about the specific dream it depicts, and discovering the significance of the missing rung on the ladder. However, much weirdness in the book is left unexplained, so even if an incomplete ladder had been mentioned, I still might not know the meaning behind it.
Now for something completely different…
4 days ago