OF 'TWELVE STORIES OF RUSSIA: A NOVEL, I GUESS'|
Publication: Virginia Quarterly Review
Title: Twelve Stories of Russia: A Novel, I guess
Date: April 1, 2002
Twelve stories of Russia: A Novel, I Guess, by A. J. Perry.
Russian literature has a long tradition of the absurd and the surreal. A. J. Perry's novel represents an American contribution to that tradition. The narrative traces the experiences of a young American who travels to Russia in the waning days of Soviet power and remains there for the next six years. Eager to learn what the essence of Russia is, and what the salient differences between Americans and Russians might be, the protagonist records his reactions to some typical experiences of Russian daily life: standing in line for potatoes, encounters with a nightmarish and indifferent bureaucracy, and ceaseless attempts to learn how to drink vodka the way a real Russian should. Written in a tone of ironic bemusement, the narrative evokes the shades of Nikolay Gogol, Fyodor Tyutchev, Daniil Kharms, and Viktor Erofeyev. Readers who have spent time in Russia, and of course, Russians themselves, will find much humor in this new treatment of a familiar landscape.