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The short-story collection suits Kalfus; its eclecticism let him come at his subject from as many angles as he can dream up (and that's a lot). It's harder to sustain the same kind of imaginative momentum in a longer form, which makes the book's final novella an unexpected success. "Peredelkino" follows two writers through an intricate dance of literature, politics, jealousy, and desire, and then closes on a lovely and moving image. The narrator--discredited, disillusioned, his career finished--stands outside his own house "in the dark nowhere place from where authors always watch their readers." Inside is his wife, to whom he has been repeatedly and flagrantly unfaithful, oblivious to his presence but transfixed by his book:
I knew that shortly there would be many explanations to be made, however imperfectly, and then confessions and recriminations, protestations of grief and loss, and then at last hard, practical calculation. Before that, I wanted to absorb, place in words that I would always be able to summon, an image of her like that, the passionate reader.In a sense, that's us he's looking at, absorbed in the book we've just finished. Kalfus is the kind of writer who can tip his hat to the reader--who can acknowledge our complicity--all without ever lifting us out of the world he's created. Most fiction speaks to either the heart or the head; his does both with ease. --Mary Park --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
I ran across this book entirely by accident. While scanning the shelf for yet another author, the title caught my eye, and being a Russian language undergraduate and traveler; I... Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2003
Kalfus' second collection of stories has a lot to commend it. The title story "PU-239" is the best of the book. Read morePublished on May 14 2001 by Scott M. Craig
Don't expect this collection of short stories to be anywhere as good as the author's first work Thirst. Read morePublished on Sept. 20 2000 by Tyler
I found this to be a great collection of short stories, and I think those who are interested in life in the Soviet Union/Russia of the 20th Century will also find it to be a... Read morePublished on June 23 2000 by Buckeye
This book reminds you that a good short story can fill you up as much as the best novel because it tantalizes and teases you with its economy.Published on April 6 2000
There's an old Russian story about a serf who's granted a wish by a genie. "Kill my neighbour's cow" is the wish. This book expands on that thought process. Read morePublished on Feb. 28 2000 by Patrick Carroll