Turgenev devotees will be pleased to find a copy of this most seldom reissued and perhaps least known of his novels. Its tidy paperback sheath, studded with sepia snapshots from the historical time it depicts, makes a fine outer garment for the spare and slender frame of a tale we find within. For, at first glance, "Smoke" will not appear to have many of the winning features which normally draw readers into Turgenev's fictional realms and keep them there, so happily immured: absent are the legendary lyrical descriptions of the Russian countryside and its owners to be found in such novels as "Rudin" and "Home of the Gentry," and missing are the complex character development and more involved political reflections which are hallmarks of the somewhat lesser yet still impressive "On the Eve." And the discoverer of "Smoke" will be sorely disappointed should she or he hope to find in this work something to satisfy the voracious literary appetite engendered by the sumptuous meal which "Fathers and Children" invariably is. "Smoke," like "Virgin Soil" which immediately followed it, has no dearth of defects. Its plot moves too swiftly, for example, giving no time for characters to change and events to move in credible ways. Its tone is often mean-spirited and sour. Practically no one likeable, aside, perhaps, from the unhappy Tatyana, appears in its pages. Its plot and even dialogue are too often puzzlingly predictable. Yet, for all its lacks, "Smoke" does accomplish the astonishing novelistic miracle, achieved by so few: the creation of two characters, in Irina Ratmirov and Grigory Litvinov, who are utterly unforgettable. Unsavory from first bite to final slurp, an encounter with them will leave the reader longing for some equally ferocious flavor as purgative to the palate. No small feat! Though to a 21st century American ear, this translation will sound quaintly Victorian (Constance Garnett, whose translating career death has not hurt one little bit) and cozily English (check out curiosities like "phiz" and "fly"), it is well-worth not only buying but reading. What better way, really, to point out the always-to-be-remembered truth that even immortals like the divine Turgenev were not continually engaged in the manufacture of masterpieces.