[Read] ➮ Венерин волос By Mikhail Shishkin – Papercuts.co

Day After Day The Russian Asylum Seekers Sit Across From The Interpreter And Peter The Swiss Officers Who Guard The Gates To Paradise And Tell Of The Atrocities They Ve Suffered, Or That They Ve Invented, Or Heard From Someone Else These Stories Of Escape, War, And Violence Intermingle With The Interpreter S Own Reading A His Tory Of An Ancient Persian War Letters Sent To His Son Nebuchadnezzasaurus, Ruler Of A Distant, Imaginary Childhood Empire And The Diaries Of A Russian Singer Who Lived Through Russia S Wars And Revolutions In The Early Part Of The Twentieth Century, And Eventually Saw The Soviet Union S Dissolution Mikhail Shishkin S Maidenhair Is An Instant Classic Of Russian Literature It Bravely Takes On The Eternal Questions Of Truth And Fiction, Of Time And Timeless Ness, Of Love And War, Of Death And The Word And Is A Movingly Luminescent Expression Of The Pain Of Life And Its Uncountable Joys


10 thoughts on “Венерин волос

  1. says:

    Decided not to assign stars for this thanks to my inconsistent, distracted, impatient reading Top notch prose, for the most part, on a sentence level Or at least it seems like top notch prose same with the various approaches employed Sometimes it seemed like a semblance of Towering Literary Artistry, the semblance of an international mind fuggin masterpiece, the semblance of Big Important Book imaginatively portraying atrocities, dealing in ye olde Faulknerian verities, harkening back to bloody days of yore and not so long ago At its best, it reminded me of David Grossman s See Under Love Fantastic similes, wisdom, audacity often ingenious in terms of approach BUT so often I felt like I was meant to applaud the author s awesomeness instead of see into the novel and it s possible this was the plan Force upon the reader the experience of interpreting various stories, some viscerally real, some obviously concocted to the point of mythology fairy tale but, other than moments during the QA bits and the girl s diary, it didn t make for an enjoyable read, even for a reader with semi masochistic tendencies It took about 200 pages for the distinct narratives to clarify I could ve saved readerly navigation time by looking at the backcover copy earlier than I did copy that explains the rotating approaches although revealing its four or so rotating sections right away might dymystify things for readers, again, interpretating one s way out of initial disorientation seems like part of this one s plan At first I was open to the book thanks to aforementioned unfakeable fantastic similes and insight and gorgeous descriptions I read maybe 100 pages pages 200 300 or so with something like pleasure or engagement, following the story of the young singer s apostrophe happy diary entries about a boy at the front, also the interpreter s time in Rome with his wife thinking about an idealized deceased boyfriend But then skimmed the last 200 pages in the time it takes to read 20 No characters interested me and after a while I succumbed to the impulse to skim Let s blame the crappy recent weather that dampened my regular daily walking reading program An absolutely ambitious novel that might bring endless joy to a patient reader, especially one with a soft spot hard on for Eurasian atrocity It did sometimes feel like atrocity porn, like the author got off on the grotesque beauty of wartorn horrorshow Might make for engaging reading for someone better versed in Russian history, who s read the Arabian Nights and enjoyed Midnight s Children and Cloud Atlas two well liked novels I haven t been able to read much of I love Open Letters and this one at first reminded me of the highly recommended Zone by Mathias Enard that they also published Loved the look and feel of the book itself, but this just didn t do it for me I was all set to love it and hype it to the heavens A shame Sorry I fall upon my readerly sword, too dull to pierce this instance of high falutin lit.


  2. says:

    The BEST is still coming out of SMALL PReSSes with no budget to place reviews in prominent papers A few I know are good and maybe you ve not herd about them but maybe in a different kind of world you would ve and but I haven t gotten to these myself but yes I d really like to before too long but I have the same difficulty you do with that tbr Prae Vol 1Flowers in the MirrorDivine PunishmentMatches A Light BookCaptivityOreoRama and the DragonThe Weight of ThingsKvachiThe Peony Pavilion Mudan tingA RoomBetween Dog and WolfAnd I m not even listing the stuff from Murty and from the LAL Just what s sitting in my schoppenkart and what s been pub d rather recently and gets apparently no attention but some majic words regarding which have found their ways winging toward my ear s mouth Seriously, if any of these books listed there suck, then I m Kirk Cameron s uncle ______________ Mikhail Shishkin s Maidenhair is the type of novel that professors of Russian literature can hold up as a shining example in their classrooms that no, Russian literature is not dead nor has it ever been , while those who might not know their Pushkin from their Shishkin can read and enjoy Maidenhair as a standalone work of literary brilliance while at the same time the notoriously fickle American readers who might have read Anna Karenina when Oprah s Book Club made their recommendation or stumbled upon and enjoyed Master Margarita can sink their mindsteeth into Marian Schwartz s incredible translation of Shishkin s novel and marvel in the fact that Maidenhair harkens back to the great classic Russian novels of ideas in every way. 3% are, roughly, three narrative lines which structure the novel in one, a nameless interpreter Shishkin s alter ego , who works with asylum seekers in Switzerland, writes letters to his absent son, Nebuchadnezzasaurus In another, two voices of unknown or unstable identity engage in a series of questions and answers In the last, a Russian singer named Bella Dmitrievna records her life, and most of the twentieth century, in diaries which the interpreter will eventually read when he attempts to write her biography With these three strands, Maidenhair weaves its tangled braid, although contained within it are also a dizzying array of historical digressions, philosophical preoccupations, parables, letters, jokes, and literary allusions Quart erly Con versationhttp quarterlyconversation.com maid Day after day the Russian asylum seekers sit across from the interpreter and Peter the Swiss officers who guard the gates to paradise and tell of the atrocities they ve suffered, or that they ve invented, or heard from someone else These stories of escape, war, and violence intermingle with the interpreter s own reading a his tory of an ancient Persian war letters sent to his son Nebuchadnezzasaurus, ruler of a distant, imaginary childhood empire and the diaries of a Russian singer who lived through Russia s wars and revolutions in the early part of the twentieth century, and eventually saw the Soviet Union s dissolution Mikhail Shishkin s Maidenhair is an instant classic of Russian literature It bravely takes on the eternal questions of truth and fiction, of time and timeless ness, of love and war, of Death and the Word and is a movingly luminescent expression of the pain of life and its uncountable joys. is what the publisher, brave Open Letter, has to say.http www.openletterbooks.org produc Most of the critics agree that 2005 will go down in the history of Russian literature as the year when Maidenhair, the new novel by Mikhail Shishkin, was published Literaturnaya Rossia Maidenhair is a kind of book they give the Nobel prize for The novel is majestic Nezavisimaya Gazeta the above two are blurbs provided by the kindness of the publisher Marian Schwartz has translated several Major Important Russian Works But, perhaps it is Maidenhair that will set her reputation my own conjecture Schwartz s translation faithfully conveys the structure and intricacies of Shishkin s novel, providing no hints or signposts for the English language reader than the author allows his native readership The novel is built from a web of textual sources assembled so seamlessly that the subtlety of connections can, at times, flummox even the conscientious reader Maidenhair does not explicitly differentiate descriptions of the real world from secondhand stories A detail from the protagonist s life might appear alongside a line from a book he s reading, suggesting that each has equal claim to the representation of some kind of reality. World Lit Todayhttp www.worldliteraturetoday.org 2 Maidenhair seems like an unusual novel, first offering one thing then another, and certainly not offering some story with a nice arc from beginning to end The protagonist is known only as the interpreter He lives in Switzerland and is employed as a translator for Russian speaking asylum seekers and the occasional prisoner when they deal with the authorities Years earlier, when he was still living in Russia where he was the teacher , he had been hired by a publisher to write the biography of long lived singer Bella Dmitrievna, born in Czarist Russia and surviving well past the downfall of the Soviet empire the project collapsed, but long excerpts from her reminiscences and diaries the raw material he was to use are included in the novel There are also the letters he writes to his son, whom he calls his Nebuchadnezzasaurus, as well as some episodes from his own life Komplete Reviewhttp www.complete review.com review A what seems like an odd mix of narratives works together to surprisingly powerful effect view spoiler blurbs provided at the Complete Review, which should be enough for you finally. The first thing to stress about Maidenhair is that any attempt at summarizing the novel s extraordinary complexity will fail miserably Maidenhair is neither dry nor difficult It is a delight to read Maidenhair is the best post Soviet Russian novel I have read Simply put, it is true literature, a phenomenon we encounter too rarely in any language Daniel Kalder, Dallas Morning News Michail Schischkin ist ein Sprachvirtuose, dessen surreale, apokalyptische Szenarien an die Filme seines Landsmannes Andrei Tarkowski erinnern Andreas Tretner hat diese Sprachkraft meisterhaft ins Deutsche bertragen Dennoch erweist sich die Lekt re als erm dender Kraftakt Die umfangreichen, umsichtigen Anmerkungen des bersetzers zu den zahllosen historischen und literarischen Anspielungen erleichtern die Rezeption nur bedingt Denn allzu oft ersch pft sich die postmoderne Komplexit t im Manierismus und der Leser verliert in der Kakophonie der Stimmen die Orientierung Sabine Berking, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Maidenhair is as a whole a success, a potent, encyclopedic exploration of the art of storytelling Shishkin possesses an acute sense of the length of time he can spend in artful, fantastical language, and knows when he instead needs to tell a story that is easily comprehensible His balancing of multiple narrative styles is perhaps the greatest feat of his narrative For all that Shishkin does to craft a profound, beautiful work of literature, a potentially subpar translation occasionally disrupt the reader Grace E Huckins, The Harvard Crimson Venushaar ist einer der wichtigsten Romane der russischen Gegenwartsliteratur Literarisches Stilempfinden, psychologischer Scharfblick und kompositorisches Gef hl bilden gemeinsam die Grundlage f r einen meisterhaften Text, der das Romangenre neu definiert Michail Schischkin verf gt ber ein feines Geh r f r die Selbstt uschungen seiner Protagonisten inklusive der Erz hlerfigur und verbindet ihre Geschichten zu einer raffinierten Konstruktion, bei der auch ein Vladimir Nabokov vor Neid erblassen k nnte Ulrich M Schmid, Neue Z rcher Zeitung Shishkin boldly manipulates his various materials Despite this potentially dehumanizing perspective, Shishkin finds faith of sorts in the next iteration of the story A curiously beguiling, if exhausting, novel Publishers Weekly Marian Schwartz s brilliant translation Shishkin s prodigious erudition, lapidary phrasing and penchant for generic play are conspicuous components of his art in both Maidenhair and the earlier novels Boris Dralyuk, Times Literary Supplement hide spoiler


  3. says:

    wow for as arduous as mikhail shishkin s maidenhair may have been to get into through the first hundred pages, its symphonic rewards are many the russian writer s 2005 epic the first novel the win all three of the nation s top literary prizes , is as unique as it is beautiful, and as elegantly composed as it is breathtakingly inclusive difficult it would be to offer any sort of succinct synopsis of the story s plot, let alone a summary of shishkin s adept and enviable narrative structuring even though the novel s four plot threads share some thematic elements and stylistic differences , shishkin never forces them along nor deigns to make them interlink with one another there is nothing demanding or laborious about maidenhair and claims to the contrary betray the tendencies of so many western readers to require a neat, tidy, cohesive, and linear storyline there is beauty, there is horror, there is heartbreak, and there is hope, and shishkin s talent lies in their seemingly effortless synthesis merging autobiographical elements shishkin formerly served as an interpreter for asylum seeking refugees in switzerland , historical accounts, mythological indulgences, and inventive storytelling, shishkin s novel is intricate and gratifying maidenhair is an impressively animate work that inexplicably manages to contain all of the essential constituents of life oh, and the prose stunning, gorgeous passages abound that s it exactly minutes and years, all these are units unknown to life and signifying what there isn t time is measured by the altered coloring of the horse that stretches its lips to the apple time, like a sewing machine, sews that overheated dog s cage full of straw in a jagged line with the empty subway car and the forgotten notebook, the rustle of falling pencils out the window, and that sheet twisted in a knot and here this book that s lying on the floor, that you can open right away to the last page and read how the weary travelers, as they endure all their trials, losing and gaining, despairing and believing, killing their feet and scratching their souls, coarsening to the touch and maturing to love, come to the end of their long journey, to the very sea, which is hung on a tautly drawn horizon by distant sails, like clothespins, and, bathed in tears, rush to embrace one another and shout something ridiculous, delirious with joy. and another it s good to be back in valentinovka after moscow moscow left a strange impression life is getting better, and you can feel it literally they ve cancelled ration cards, closed the humiliating trade syndicates, where people brought their teeth, there s plenty of food, and even, and the theaters and cinemas are packed but everything else is as before people are the same the dneprovs boasted of their new swedish table and new radio their home is a full cup and they have all of it on view, just to cut a swath milich sent the cook to eliseyev s, in front of her guests, to buy some cold pork for her pomeranian afterward we were driving away and i saw out the window how poorly the women on the street were dressed and how everyone was carrying something, laden with some great weight cans of kerosene, bags, sacks, baskets they board the streetcars with their sacks and look at me with envy and malice.why does everyone hate each other and bend over backward to have something to boast of apartments, fur coats, servants, lovers, autos, a fat, full life what if the punishment comes before death, not after presumably much of mikhail shishkin s fiction will soon be forthcoming in english translation andrew bromfield s pelevin, akunin, lukyanenko rendering of shishkin s epistolary novel, the light and the dark, is due out sometime this year from quercus translated from the russian by marian schwartz nina berberova, bulgakov, goncharov, et al , whom in a translator s note for shishkin s short story, calligraphy lesson, said translating shishkin means maintaining his virtuosic tension between complex detail and deeply felt emotion.


  4. says:

    Holy shit is this book amazing I don t think there s any way I can accurately describe it, or explain what this book is about The QA sections, the biography of the Russian singer, the story of the interpreter, all relate and reflect off of one another without every coming together to form a complete, singular whole At least not in my first reading this is one of those books I want to read again And again If you don t believe me about the craziness of this, just check out the description Shishkin s agent uses on their website Synopsys Maiden s Hair is a kind of book they give Nobel prize for among many other prizes Not surprising then that Shishkin earned the National Bestseller award this quote from Bookshelf Magazine is just a small fraction of praise the book has received in Russia, and rightly so It is a brilliant novel that unquestionably belongs with the greatest works of Russian literature It s universal at its core and not only because the action takes place across countries and historical epochs, virtually destroying boundaries The whole novel is a metaphor of a resurrection of the soul through the word And through love Yeah But seriously, this is going to blow people away when we bring it out this summer.


  5. says:

    Probably it sounds too loud but I believe that Mikhail Shishkin is the best modern Russian writer I ve read some really good Russian contemporary books but I ve read nothing better than Taking Izmail or Maidenhair Maidenhair is extraordinarily multilayered and global in its analysis of human relationships and of course its language is a rare treasure Here everything is the same as of old.The universe is expanding The interpreter is interpreting.You go home, but you can t empty your head of all that transpired during the day You ve brought it all home with you.You just can t rid yourself of those people and words So simple global truths are always simple All that s mine I carry with me so all our life experiences, our troubles and joys are always with us.But in fact the novel is very complex interlacing history and modern times, religion, philosophy and multifaceted reality Mikhail Shishkin builds a genuine Babel Tower of a book For by the word was the world created Man only becomes an individual when he is in an ethical rapport with the rest of mankind.


  6. says:

    Nothing less than extraordinary Heartbreaking and exhilarating Shishkin has a masters touch, a language virtuoso The modernist flourishes are really something to marvel at Modernist prose acrobatics aren t supposed to be so evocative, so.emotional I was moved beyond words This will no doubt be considered among the classics of Russian literature.


  7. says:

    Contemporary Russian literature all too often falls into a ghettoized section of world literature that keep fans of translated and international literature from fully enjoying the best works of the last twenty years One problem is a tendency for Western sources to focus on the political elements in a Russian text that inevitably denigrates the quality of the literature itself At the same time, too many scholars of Russian literature place contemporary Russian literature into a different ghetto altogether, with the predominant sentiment in American universities being that great Russian literature died once upon a time with Bulgakov or Pasternak This fact is, of course, 100% not true Both of these problems keep Russian literature from its proper place in discussions of world literature We appreciate so many of the Russian classics as above politics and existent outside of but wholly influenced by the passage of historical time, while their themes are inherently but subtly political as they discuss the contradictions and distortions in the daily realities of the Russian society that combine to make the stories so timeless and powerful.Mikhail Shishkin s Maidenhair is the type of novel that professors of Russian literature can hold up as a shining example in their classrooms that no, Russian literature is not dead nor has it ever been , while those who might not know their Pushkin from their Shishkin can read and enjoy Maidenhair as a standalone work of literary brilliance while at the same time the notoriously fickle American readers who might have read Anna Karenina when Oprah s Book Club made their recommendation or stumbled upon and enjoyed Master Margarita can sink their mindsteeth into Marian Schwartz s incredible translation of Shishkin s novel and marvel in the fact that Maidenhair harkens back to the great classic Russian novels of ideas in every way.Since his first novel came out in 1994, Shishkin has won Russia s three most prestigious literary prizes the Russian Booker, the National Bestseller, and the Big Book Despite his prodigious and award winning talents, Maidenhair is his first novel published in English, and will be formally released on October 23, 2012 by Open Letter Books Shishkin s former day job was as an interpreter in Switzerland and he splits his time these days between Zurich and Moscow both facts play in to the characters in Maidenhair He has previously taught for a semester at Washington Lee University in Virginia, and is returning to the USA in spring 2013 to teach a seminar at Columbia and to give talks across the country relating to Maidenhair The international nature of Shishkin himself plays in to the narrative structure of Maidenhair, as his characters inhabit positions across the globe and throughout history all at once the migr Russian writer of the past has given way to the globalized Russian writer of the 21st century, wherein borders are insignificant, the author is at once entirely Russian and at the same time entirely a global citizen.At its core, Maidenhair is a novel of ideas that reads like a 21st century Tolstoy, concerned with the big questions of life, death, love, and everything in between here, in the trenches, people never talk out loud about the main thing People smoke, drink, eat, and talk about trivial things, boots, for instance 251 Maidenhair is a novel that talks about the main things constantly faith and spirituality the importance of enjoying fleeting moments of beauty in the face of death throughout, the quest for love, affection, and human ethics touches on every character, and make themselves apparent in philosophical dialogue, mythological references, and spiritual ruminations Life is a string and death is the air A string makes no sound without air 150 Maidenhair is at the same time, like the great works of Russian literature, above politics and timeless Its narrative grace and the power of its ideas would feel every bit at home in literary salons alongside Tolstoy and Chekhov 1902, though it was written a full century later.To discuss the plot of Maidenhair feels vulgar It is hard to describe and seemingly banal But as Zakhar Prilepin another incredible contemporary Russian author who is awaiting his first published translation in America discussed at a recent Read Russia event at Book Expo America, the plots of the greatest works of Russian literature are all exceedingly banal young man kills a pawnbroker and an investigation follows a young woman cheats on her husband with a young officer What makes these stories original is not their plot but the presentation of the author s ideas and their critiques of social s that exist at once across the globe So it is with Maidenhair The plot is, in fact, rather banal four narratives are interwoven throughout the novel stories told by Russian refugees seeking asylum in Switzerland to a Russian interpreter working for the Swiss government the interpreter s trips to Italy and his subsequent estrangement from his wife and son letters written by the interpreter to his son, addressing him as an emperor of a far off made up land, all starting out with, Dear Nebuchadnezzasaurus and incorporating elements of historical and mythological texts the interpreter is reading on his breaks from work and diary entries written by an Isabella on whom the interpreter was supposed to write a biography, who the not so average Western reader might not know is the famous Russian singer of the first half of the 20th century, Isabella Yurieva.The interpreter is the only character that ties the four narratives together The reader lives inside the nameless interpreter s head, with the narratives combining throughout as a mixture of things that he is reading at the time a lot of mythology and classical history , things he is working on including the diary entries and the extensive QA sections with asylum seekers , and things he is doing trips to Italy, writing letters to his son The style is confusing to discuss, but easy to read, because Shishkin repeats the themes of humanity s interconnectedness throughout history and fate.You just have to understand destiny s language and its cooing We re blind from birth We don t see anything and don t pick up on the connection between events, the oneness of things, like a mole digging its tunnel 268 Rather than discuss the plot structure and the action in the book, so as not to give away any of the brilliance in the text, it must be said that Maidenhair is a novel not to be understood to use Shishkin s own quote , but to be felt at every turn of the page, a novel to be processed as the narrative progresses, though the further you read, the less time matters, and you find yourself living inside a narrative world where everything is connected, and everything is happening all at once Before I just couldn t understand how all this could be happening to me simultaneously, but I am now, loupe in hand, and at the same time I m there, holding him close and feeling that I m about to pass out, dying, I can t catch my breath But now I understand that it s all so simple Everything is always happening simultaneously Here you are writing this line now, while I m reading it Here you are putting a period at the end of this sentence, while I reach it at the very same time It s not a matter of hands on the clock They can be moved forward and back It s a matter of time zones Steps of the dial Everything is happening simultaneously, it s just that the hands have gone every which way on all the clocks 497 Shishkin has declared in Russian language interviews that Maidenhair is a novel about everything, and in recent novels he attempts to solve humanity s crisis of life and death Maidenhair is no different.This is what I believe If somewhere on earth the wounded are finished off with rifle butts, that means somewhere else people have to be singing and rejoicing in life The death there is around, the important to counter it with life, love, and beauty 328 Everything in the book makes sense together, even when reading and the narrative shifts from the singer s diary in the 1920s to the interpreter s mystical QA session with a refugee to Rome and to letters, everything is connected to the greater whole of what Shishkin is attempting to create, an entire universe of beauty, of yearning for love, of life in the face of death, of the history in everything, all tied in to the much greater questions of God s role in everything The divine idea of the river is the river itself 24 The title of the book is emblematic of Shishkin s themes of God and love at the same time maidenhair is a type of fern that grows wild in Rome, the Eternal City that plays such a central role in the novel Yet in Russia, maidenhair is a house plant that cannot grow without human care and affection For us, this is a house plant, otherwise it wouldn t survive, without human warmth, but here it s a weed So you see, this is in a dead language, signifying something alive Adiantum capillus veneris Venus hair, genus Adiantum Maidenhair God of life The wind barely stirs As if nodding, yes yes, that s true this is my temple, my land, my wind, my life The greenest of grasses It grew here before your Eternal City and will grow here after 500 Even the epigraph to Maidenhair is so significant to the work that it deserves to be quoted, for it contains the essence of what Shishkin is up to And your ashes will be called, and will be told Return that which does not belong to you reveal what you have kept to this time For by the word was the world created, and by the word shall we be resurrected Revelation of Baruch ben Neriah 4, XLIIThe theme of the word is one of the big themes that recur throughout Maidenhair in each narrative, with the importance of the recorded dialogue in the interpreter s mission or in the diary entries of Isabella The themes are complex and deep, but the sentiments expressed in them, the emotion of the characters that come through in the text, are all human and completely relatable The most important themes that are discussed throughout the work include God faith and spirituality , fate and the individual , time and time space , war across time and history , history or the power of memory , diaspora especially interesting as Shishkin spends much of his time outside of Russia, yet remains a quintessentially Russian writer , intertextuality as a narrative and rhetorical style, and for the novel s use of text in text in text , Russia s role in the world and their view of themselves in the world , the role of art in human society the power of beauty to transcend the mundane day to day , migration immigration and the connection to paradise myths , mythology of all stripes , Rome after all, it is the Eternal City, so emblematic of humanity s Eternal Problems The list could go on forever, the themes are huge, the book is a page turner, not in the sense of plot twists, but in the sense that every page contains a new revelation.May I make one recommendation to you, the future reader of this brilliant novel If so, please be an active reader while you read this book keep a pen in hand, Post It notes at the ready, or your e book highlighting function at the ready, because every single page in this book contains ideas encapsulated in perfect quotes that you will want to revisit, along with the entirety of the novel, time and time again.Maidenhair is the first Russian book of the 21st century to appear in English translation that can be truly counted as an instant classic in the broad field of world literature, capable of being taught in university classrooms and discussed in book clubs for centuries to come Every individual, every emotion, every idea that humanity has ever generated and will forever generate is encapsulated in the 500 pages of Maidenhair With its perfect combination of style and substance, Maidenhair might just be the book you ve been waiting your entire life to read.


  8. says:

    When I started reading Maidenhair, I couldn t make any sense of it After about 50 pages, I felt totally lost and went back to start over I slowly sorted it out and started to enjoy the various characters and to feel, than understand, their lives Then a strange thing happened I went away for two months and didn t take the book with me Too big to carry around.When I came home, I looked at the big book, thought about the troubles I had at the beginning and was hesitant to pick it up again After another month or so, I took it up again and, shazam I had no trouble picking up the stories There are four of them I could still feel the suffering, the joy, the loss, the confusion of the characters It was an incredible feeling I thoroughly enjoyed this book There is no simple plot to follow Three of the stories are largely in the mind and letters of the interpreter, who is a Russian ex patriot working as an interpreter of asylum claims of would be refugees in Switzerland We hear, or see, his translations of various asylum seekers we read letters to his estranged son and, we follow him and his wife on a vacation that ends in marital breakup We also read the diary of a young aspiring singer in Russia and the early Soviet Union during the first part of the 20th century The diary entries strike me as incredibly realistic, as though Shishkin had access to the diaries of a real person There is a great deal of sadness in all of this.Shishkin has written a novel about human existence It is about those usual subjects of Russian literature, war and peace Tolstoy , crime and punishment Dostoevsky and love and death Woody Allen It is about the flow of time and the little time we have It is about the little moments of joy and inspiration we have It is also about our deep awareness of all of these in our day to day lives and our relationship to time It is self reflection turned inwards and outwards in the distorted mirror of our reality It also comes out as another take on quantum theory But now I understand that it s all so simple Here you are writing this line now, while I m reading it Here you are putting a period at the end of this sentence, while I reach it at the very same time It s not a matter of hands on the clock They can be moved forward and back It s a matter of time zones Steps of the dial Everything is happening simultaneously It s just that the hands have gone every which way on all the clocks.


  9. says:

    Well, after an honest effort I m abandoning this book.I can tell that there s a powerful story buried within the dazzling experimental writing, but my patience with experimental fiction is not what it once was Decades ago I actually read all of Finnegans Wake along with several commentaries now my reaction would be Just tell the story why don t you I ll trust better and adventurous readers to enjoy Shishkin s undoubted brilliance, but at this point in my life books like this just feel to me like self indulgent preening.


  10. says:

    4.5 stars Maidenhair is what I think of as an immersion type of book, a book that takes over my thoughts even when I m not reading it Maidenhair is also very difficult to summarize the book shifts between characters, countries, and time lines to offer varied takes on life and death Though the book has a reputation for difficulty, I found it very readable and enjoyable, even suspenseful at times, and loaded with references to literature and history There s about Maidenhair on my blog, here.