Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A steed, she said, is not a mouse

I picked up The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya because it caught my eye in Half Priced. I am drawn to Russian lit due to an amazing class I took in college. I just feel compelled to buy them.

Anyway, she is related to the Tolstoy and began publishing in the 1980s. The Slynx is a tale of post nuclear war in Russia, Moscow to be exact. People have "consequences" or mutations and even two hundred years after the Blast, everyone is wary about plants, animals, and any remnant of th past society. Our hero is Benedikt and we follow him through his life working as a scribe, scoffing at the Oldeners (those who survived the Blast and live without dying of natural death), and dreaming of being rich. The peasants live by capturing mice, using them as their main food source - along with worms (ew)- and as a commodity to trade.

Fyodor Kuzmich is the head of the government and Benedikt works at copying the leader's work, which is actually bits and pieces of our literature. Benedikt gets married and some creepier things start going down, which is saying a lot since this book starts off fairly creepy. Father-in-law scares me. Mother-in-law and Olenka are a little unsettling as well but Father-in-law is the worst to me. There is some great imagery with these characters.

Bendikt gets introduced to reading real books and falls in love with them. However, this love of knowledge isn't enough to bring him out of the ignorance that has been drummed into him.

The title comes from a creature that dwells in the woods hoping to prey on those who wander or spend too much time Free-thinking or partaking in feelosophy. I wished that we got a little bit more on this critter, is it real, unreal, who is to say?

I was blown away by this book. I think I will need to reread it again this year, but I need some time to digest it. The ending (the last few pages) didn't seem to be as strong as the rest of the book, but that I can forgive because the rest was so amazing.

Some quotes that moved me enough to write them down in my reading notebook (yes I have a reading notebook for such instances):

"And why is it that spritual life is called a higher life? It's because you put books up as high as you can, on the top floor, on a shelf, so that if misfortune strikes and the vermin get into the house the treasure will be safer. That's why."

"What love is his talking about? It was a book! What else could you love but a book? Huh?"

"There is no worse enemy than indifference! All evil in fact comes from the silent acquiscence of the indifferent."

"No more tryanny allowed! It was just getting too darn fashionable!"

No comments:

Post a Comment