From Russia with Revenge

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

The story referred to in the title is the one called "Revenge".  It's aptly titled because it is about relationships.

I love this book.

I've only read one short story by Petrushevskaya in another collection.  I picked this up over the weekend at a bookstore.  I had heard good things about it.

It's nice to know that sometimes the hype is correct.

This book is a collection of Petrushevskaya's more fairy tale genre fiction, so fantasy, magic realism, and fairy tale.  It is split into four different sections.  Some tales are scary and all are touching.

The tales mostly focus on women and those that don't tend to focus on fathers.  While on the surface, the stories appear to be ghost stories or fantasy, there are deeper currents that would seem to indicate why her writing wasn't published much under communism.

It's hard to make an aboslute favorite.  There is a beautiful story about a girl found in a cabbage leaf and how the woman who finds her becomes a mother, there is an equally haunting story about a father trying to say good bye to his son before the son leaves for the army.  The title story is shocking, but not in the way the title on the book cover suggests.  In fact, it is far more powerful than the title suggests.  There is a wonderfully funny story about twin dancers who turn into a fat lady.

In some ways, the last story, "The Black Coat", is, perhaps, the most emotionally impacting.  To say anything more than that would be to spoil it, and that would be wrong.

The blurb on the back on the back compares Petrushevskaya to Gogol and Poe.  I haven't read much Gogol, so I'm not going to make that comparsion.  While I can see why some might compare to her Poe, she is closer in style to Angela Carter, though in translation her language is more fluid, more everyday.  Her tone, at times, is more humorous, so the Carter comparsion doesn't quite fit.  She reminds me of Carter, Byatt, and Terry Pratchett, like the three of them had a Russian kid