Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Reality and its compications …

… on Rock, Paper, Scissors and Other Stories by Maxim Osipov, translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk, Alex Fleming and Anne Marie Jackson – On the Seawall. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

 Osipov’s subject matter is both interesting and pertinent.  As a doctor who has worked for many years in a provincial hospital, he expresses a profound understanding of contemporary Russian life, including its seamiest aspects – and he imparts this knowledge without the least hint of didacticism. What makes him a great writer, though, is the subtlety with which he allows the different voices in his stories to respond to one another, sometimes amplifying, sometimes contradicting one another – as in a string quartet, which Osipov says is his favorite form of all. A motif of “Moscow-Petrozavodsk,” repeated in different contexts, is the phrase “Killers – they’re just your average people.”  When we first hear this phrase, we may not quite accept it.  But by the end of the story, we do.  Each repetition endows it with more resonance.

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