“Money provided power in the world of people. But in Soviet Russia money didn’t play the same role as in the rest of the world. In a country living under the red flag with the hammer and sickle, only the state wielded absolute power. In order to achieve success in Russia, we would have to become part of the state machine, take cover under it, and wearing the uniforms of officialdom, go about achieving our goal. There was no other way. Any secret society existing outside of the totalitarian state was doomed.”
Vladimir Sorokin, Bro, in Ice Trilogy
Bro starts very comfortably: pre-Revolution Russia, patronyms, rich people unaware of the catastrophe of history about to swallow them; then grimness and privation and Reds and Whites, all very midcentury middlebrow historical novel, almost certainly excellent pastiche. Good enough to make you wonder whether in the original Russian it sounds more like Tolstoy or Michener, or whether Tolstoy in Russian sounds like Michener in English (I suspect it does not). And it shifts here and there into other familiar genres, from bildungsroman to wartime-espionage-ish here, to a main current of science fiction centered on a meteorite strike in Siberia. All very pleasant and postmodern, at least once we leave the comfort of the realist Russian novel.
June 11, 2014, 11:16am Comments