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Book 22

  1. Matheson, Richard — I Am Legend (161 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — No Country for Old Men (307 pages)
  3. Dexter, Gary — Why Not Catch 21?: The Stories Behind the Titles (213 pages)
  4. Ryman, Geoff — 253 (366 pages)
  5. Wyndham, John — The Day of the Triffids (267 pages)
  6. Kurkov, Andrey — Death and the Penguin (228 pages)
  7. Chesterton, G.K. — Orthodoxy (183 pages)
  8. Gibbs, Christopher H., ed. — The Cambridge Companion to Schubert (334 pages)
  9. Sendak, Maurice — Where the Wild Things Are (48 pages — though only 1 page will count towards my tally)
  10. Hurston, Zora Neale — Their Eyes Were Watching God (215 pages)
  11. Clarke, Arthur C. — Rendezvous With Rama (245 pages)
  12. Clarke, Arthur C. — The City and the Stars (246 pages)
  13. Chesterton, G.K. — The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (205 pages)
  14. Tepper, Sheri S. — Beauty (468 pages)
  15. Slawson, Douglas J. — Ambition and Arrogance: Cardinal William O'Connell of Boston and the American Catholic Church (186 pages)
  16. Belloc, Hilaire — The Great Heresies (166 pages)
  17. Waugh, Evelyn — Brideshead Revisited (326 pages)
  18. Rawicz, Slavomir — The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom (278 pages)
  19. Junger, Sebastian — The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea (309 pages)
  20. Seth, Vikram — An Equal Music (486 pages)
  21. Dubus III, Andre — House of Sand and Fog (351 pages)
  22. Kurkov, Andrey — Penguin Lost (251 pages)

Page count: 5597.

I wanted to find out what happened to the penguin! Really, I couldn't care less about the fate of Viktor who, until near the end of Death and the Penguin, seemed content to let life happen to him instead of taking charge of it. But poor Misha! I couldn't bear not knowing.

My Russian teacher is the only one I know who liked Penguin Lost better than Death and the Penguin. She thought it was funnier. Perhaps it is, when read in Russian. I'm not quite ready to do that yet.

In Penguin Lost, the dark satire extends beyond Kiev, ranging from Antarctica to Moscow, Chechnya, and Croatia. Perhaps because the scope is no longer local, the bite seems weaker, though still incisive enough to draw blood, especially in Chechnya. And Viktor is no longer the passive figure from the first book but a doer, if sometimes a bit misguided.

That said, I did not read either Kurkov novel for its political commentary but rather for the penguin. Misha only figures in about a quarter of the book, but those eighty or so pages make the book worth reading. I know it seems odd, but Kurkov has a special gift for writing about penguins. Misha is more alive and more human than any other character in either novel. The touching descriptions of the penguin prompted me to laugh and tear up, sometimes at the same time.

I nearly bought another Kurkov novel. I do, after all, enjoy his writing style, and I've heard his two other novels are good. However, I chose not to, because none of his other books feature a penguin. I'm going to miss Misha!

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