Sunday, June 12, 2011

"A Great Artist Can't Belong To Just One Person; She Belongs To Everyone": Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Today's book is "There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby" (Amazon). Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is a Russian author who is currently 73. She has had quite the life, as the introduction to this book points out. She lived in the Soviet Union and dealt with her works going from being banned to highly respected. Her work shows many signs of her personal struggles in life. Now, I cannot find any contact information for Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, so I'll just elaborate on my thoughts on this book. If anyone stumbles across a way to contact her, I'd love to know.

Apparently this collection won the World Fantasy Award for Best Collection last year. I have no idea who else was nominated, or even if that award works that way, but I have to say, I can see how this would win. The stories are often rather chilling. In some of them, you don't even realize how terrifying the concepts are until a few minutes after you're done reading.

Sometimes the writing style seems very... the best word I can think of is "stark." Very no nonsense and bare bones. However, I think that may be the result of being translated from Petrushevskaya's native Russian. I don't think it necessarily detracts from any of the stories, it just isn't my preferred writing style.

Overall, most of the stories were the kind that stopped and made you think. The one that affected me most was probably "Hygiene," which was a story about a disease and a family's paranoia leading to their downfall. To me, the concept of destroying yourself from within because of fear is a fairly chilling concept. However, some of the stories had happy, or at least satisfying endings, such as "Marilena's Secret" and "The Cabbage-Patch Mother."

This book is definitely correctly classified as a "horror" novel. However, it's not the kind of horror I'm used to. Don't pick it up expecting Stephen King or anything like that. Ludmilla Petrushevskaya has a voice all her own, one definitely worth listening to.

The next book is "Baking Cakes in Kigali" by Gaile Parkin. It will definitely be a change of pace from "There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby." I'm not going into work tomorrow, so I'll have plenty of time to read, and there might be a post then. After that though, the posts are definitely going to be less frequent, as I'll have less free time.

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