I guess if one was looking for a literary bummer with which to pass the time, Klotsvog would fit the bill. It’s a story, written by a Ukraine-born Muscovite, about an indefatigably solipsistic woman who sheds partners and children like Kleenex.
“You, Mayechka, are made from a different dough. Like matzo. Unleavened and hard.”
There’s more to it than that – her awfulness, her awareness of social standing and her denial of her Jewish roots are clear commentaries on Stalinist purges and on the difficulty of life both during and after the second world war. But foremost is the portrait of Maya Abramovna Klotsvog: a woman who believes she is smarter and better than everyone else, but who also, apparently, doesn’t give a fuck who she irritates in the pursuit of her desires. (more…)
So, I could be a bit dim. I mean, I didn’t pursue philosophy at university beyond first year, so Shi Tiesheng’s 156-chapter stream-of-consciousness journey through life, the universe and everything – by painstakingly recounted way of Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies and Videotape – might be just be something that’s rocketing over my head, satellite style, shooting across the heavens leaving a trail of profundity that I’ll never grasp, dullard that I am.
I must admit that prior to reading this book, I’d only known Stefan Zweig’s work through its influence on The Grand Budapest Hotel – which is a fairly enormous watering-down of his importance on my part.
Turns out Zweig’s writing is much more than just the inspiration for some lovely cinema. Journeys is a collection of the writer’s work, translated by Will Stone, spanning four decades, all of which specifically relate to travel. (more…)