Monday, 10 February 2014

Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

The afternoon was so cold, so relentlessly gray, few pedestrians passed the long island of trees dividing Commonwealth Avenue, and even little dogs, shunted along impatiently, wore thermal coats and offended expressions.

So this story opens with yet another weather report; plus, interestingly enough, little dogs fashionably dressed with pissed off, haughty looks, like those annoying rich snobs that don't work for a living. Damn dogs. But they are being shunted. 

The short of it is: Weather offends - though this we know. But does the reader need to be reminded of it before the story starts? Or is this meant to inform us that Russian weather sucks and is a storm of pathos, intense and engaging enough to read about or start a novel about?

From a third-floor window on the north side of the street, above decorative copper balconies that had long ago turned the color of pale mint, Nina Revskaya surveyed the scene. 

Enter character.

Soon the sun—what little there was of it—would abandon its dismal effort, and all along this strip of well-kept brownstones, streetlamps would glow demurely.

The sun makes a dismal effort? That's relative. But I sympathize with the poetic attempt.

First thing said:


Which does not reveal character or conflict. With three dramatic adverbs in three sentences we must assume this is artsy-fartsy. So the club of artistic-fartistic connoisseurs should love this - a club that looks down on us herd mentality readers.

Verdict: Fail

Theodore Moracht

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