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Skinny Dipping Into Books

I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea.  and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.


I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,

Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.

time spent in that before bed reading slot:

5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago  2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.

How are common themes handled?

5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power  4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates  1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.

Where would you keep it post-reading?

5-Next to my bed.  4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.

Emotional response-

5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry.
3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 
2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.

Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):

5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy

Currently reading

The Complete Stories
Flannery O'Connor
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls
Alissa Nutting, Alissa Nutting

Creepy like Casper

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby - Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, Keith Gessen, Anna Summers

totally and absolutely unedited. Lost five times.. saving as safety.





These stories are divided into two sections; the more overtly scary ones and the more surreal type shorts. A loose common thread among the entire collection was a dark eeriness. However I needed more. I needed them to coalesce into a more tightly woven presentation of short stories. Yes culture was explored, but I guess since it was headlined as "The literary event of Halloween: a book of otherworldly power from Russia's preeminent contemporary fiction writer" that it really didn't own up the exceptions of this exceptionally grand claim. Imagine if you will a bay, with its slow, even, and relaxing waves, compared to the harsh, destructive rhythm of the ocean. I WANTED THE OCEAN, BABY.  


The stories that felt more apparent in their efforts to scare, or at least chill the reader, were a balance of ghost stories you read and listened to around a camp fire as a young child, and more ghastly, shocking stories about human suffering and the dark corners of life (see a fine example of this in [book:Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls|8603232]); this group of stories did perhaps act as a thread to connect the more overly surreal ones.



Now, there are, among those 'fight factor' stories, an element that may make you feel reminiscent of your childhood. Remember sitting by a fire as you listen to peers and adults tell you what seems now silly, but scared the shit out of you then. The story of the man who finds a large, weirdly shaped potato in his garden, eats it and goes to sleep. A rustling at his front door awakes him. He hears the noise; a drag, and thump…. drag… thump. Both noises are in sync with one another. you figure out quickly that they are footsteps, and they are headed to you. they are headed up your stairs in the direction of your bedroom. Thump…. drag… thump.. drag. The door creeks open. you cover your face. drag… thump. drag. thump. A voice trembles through the thin silence of your room, "where is my foot?" story ends. Consequently I always wondered what happened to the footless man and the guy who ate it. Side note, if you are looking for an adult version of this particular story, look no further, it has been adapted to just that in the lovely [book:Revenge|16032127]. They also recall [book:Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark|1325218] and this is where you may get a little flutter of childhood in your stomach; it certainly elicited an "awww" moment for me.



The group of stories pertaining to human elements, without the overbearing drowning effect of the most surreal ones, were a collection of stories about ghosts, possession, death, loss, sadness, grief, revenge, as well as other topics. As a whole I felt that these more ghastly oriented stories were solid, better executed, and involved a thicker more concise plot, compared to the surreal stories that drifted too far away from these elements, and the subject matter of these stories.


As an example I'll use one of the more delightful stories in this collection, and a story that specifically reels back from the surrealism, to only bounce occasionally in that genre:



here once lived a woman who hated her neighbor — a single mother with a small child. As the child grew and learned to crawl, the woman would sometimes leave a pot of boiling water in the corridor, or a container full of bleach, or she'd just spread out a whole box of needles right there in the hall. The poor mother didn't suspect anything — her little girl hadn't learned to walk yet, and she didn't let her out in the corridor during the winter when the floor was cold. But the time was fast approaching when her daughter would be able to leave the room on her own. The mother would say to her neighbor, "Raya, sweetie, you dropped your needles again," at which point Raya would blame her poor memory. "I'm always forgetting things," she'd say.



Maybe I'm sick minded, but isn't this just yummy, eat up goodness?


The remainder, about 1/4 of the book, was bogged down by an absence of intent and a shift in the writers voice, by an over reliance on surrealism. They fell flat for me, and rather emotionless, which I doubt was the intent. It almost felt that the author had difficulty editing down the surrealism, which weighed down her otherwise simple, delicate, and exact style; I'll avoid a Project Runway reference here. There was a struggle to maintain a balance between the more concrete stories and the subtle surreal ones. Tossing in stories that lingered and lasted for an expansive amount of time, and held relentlessly to surrealism, felt like book ends that clashed with the a rooms ornamentation.


So about two thirds of the collection were more or less well executed, although some did fall off the cliff, and others got a hard push. Here comes the debate; do I up the stars just because I favored a certain number of these stories? or do I lower them because as a whole they just didn't work? In the end you get three stars, however I do question if this is because the stories that worked contrasted widely against those that did, resulting in me appropriating the successful ones more than I would if all the stories landed in the middle of mediocre.


What also swayed me away from a two star review was what I think really diminished this collection; translation. You know when you read a book, like [author:Haruki Murakami|3354], with a tightness and ease, which you rarely question? I questioned this particular collection often, and rested my doubt on perhaps an inaccurate translation. This feeling emerged when lines, fitted between clear succinct sentences, seemed to deviate, having a level of confusion slice through them. So, with this I urge the reader to keep this in mind, because it's quite possible that this is the case, and we shouldn't let this diminish the writing, Right?


These stories won't cause you to be more attentive to the bumps in the night, but they will act as a nice interlude between the often redundant, monotonous horror themed books that overtake this time of the year. unless you are doing it right, and even then it will fit nicely as a cleanser between reading [author:Shirley Jackson|13388], [author:Steven King|1857672], and [author:Roald Dahl|4273] [book:Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories|23792] (which I have yet to read, but found while reviewing this book… and boy am I excited).




In the end these stories had a funny Casper feel (boooooo from under the white bed sheet), and I dig that, unfortunately the authors inability (though I feel this is not intended) to reel it in interrupted the atmosphere portrayed in the other 3/4s of the book. Fortunately, I can say quite honestly that you will recognize these if you are reading the stories front to back (Imagine a heart monitor, flowing in even rounded cliffs, and then an uneven bounce in heart rhythm), which is STRONGLY suggest, and you then can decide to not read them, or return to them after your scary october adventures, or you can just read them; its all up to you.