April 15, 2014

Russian History 101...at least Russian architecture...ecclesiastical anyway

It only took me a millennium but I finally finished up Devil's Acre: A Russian Novel. I blame it on the fact that I read the majority of it on my phone and the font was horrendously tiny (a fix to this is on its way). Now onto the review! The historical details of this story are grounded in fact but the characters and their storyline are distinctly fictitious. If you don't like novels that switch between time periods then you're not going to be a big fan of this book. I don't mind a bit of time jumping but I like the time periods to be easily distinguishable which wasn't always the case with this novel. I think it would have flowed better if the chapters flip flopped back and forth rather than within the chapters themselves. Also, the author utilized a writing technique that further confused things: he injected himself into the novel as a type of narrator about a quarter of the way through. Again, I don't mind this technique if it's unmistakable to the rest of the narrative. There was so much jumping around that I didn't really feel comfortable until about halfway through. Now as to the story itself, I found the plot interesting (I'm always interested in a bit of history/mystery) but I finished somewhat dissatisfied with the state of affairs. I was hoping for a bit more character resolution and it just never materialized. If you want to delve into the history of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour then this book is for you. If you want a story that sweeps you away on a cloud that you never want to emerge from well...I don't make any guarantees.

Because it's National Poetry Month I've decided to read two books of poetry. Both were originally written by Duo Duo and translated from Chinese to English by Gregory B. Lee. The first is titled The Boy Who Catches Wasps which is a collection of Duo Duo's poetry from across his career beginning after the massacre in Tiananmen Square. The second is Looking Out From Death which was the first collaboration between Lee and the poet and is the first collection of his poetry in English. I first became aware of Duo Duo when reading The Spy where selected passages were used at the beginning of several chapters. IT'S POETRY TIME!

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