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Book 29

  1. Grossmith, George & Weedon — The Diary of a Nobody (166 pages)
  2. McCarthy, Cormac — Blood Meridian (334 pages)
  3. Moore, Alan & Dave Gibbons — Watchmen (399 pages)
  4. Moore, Christopher — Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal (507 pages)
  5. Murger, Henri — The Bohemians of the Latin Quarter (381 pages)
  6. Walk with Me: A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009 (98 pages)
  7. Douglas, Lloyd C. — The Robe (438 pages)
  8. Robinson, Marilynne — Gilead (281 pages)
  9. Jerome, Jerome K. — Three Men in a Boat (182 pages)
  10. Satrapi, Marjane — Persepolis (343 pages)
  11. Dodge, Jim — Fup (121 pages)
  12. Bauby, Jean-Dominique — The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly (114 pages)
  13. Fleming, Ian — Casino Royale (219 pages)
  14. Blake, Quentin — Clown (30 pages)
  15. Weigel, George — The Courage To Be Catholic (249 pages)
  16. Ishiguro, Kazuo — The Remains of the Day (255 pages)
  17. Orwell, George — Animal Farm (125 pages)
  18. Garner, James Finn — Politically Correct Bedtime Stories (81 pages)
  19. Robinson, Marilynne — Home (339 pages)
  20. Opera Magazine — Basses in Opera: Profiles of thirteen great basses (96 pages)
  21. Beaumarchais, Pierre-Augustin Caron de — The Figaro Trilogy (David Coward, transl.) (335 pages)
  22. Keyes, Daniel — Flowers for Algernon (217 pages)
  23. Bök, Christian — Eunoia (94 pages)
  24. Zweig, Stefan — Chess (76 pages)
  25. Kinney, Jeff — Meet the Wimpy Kid (55 pages)
  26. Lovecraft, H.P. — At the Mountains of Madness (188 pages)
  27. Blatty, William Peter — The Exorcist (307 pages)
  28. Williamson, Jack — Darker Than You Think (266 pages)
  29. Pelevin, Victor — Omon Ra (152 pages)

Page count: 6448.

I picked this up because it was dirt cheap, I recognized the author and title, and I was intrigued by the title and cover page. I told a friend, who immediately reacted negatively. Well, if it was as bad as she suggested, it wasn't a huge commitment in terms of either cost or time spent reading.

And while far from good, it wasn't as bad as my friend implied.

Omon Ra is a satire of the Soviet system (fictionalizing Soviet efforts to reach the moon), and it seemed a bit odd that a book published in 1992 would be satirizing the Soviet government of the 1970s. It just seemed dated. (Kurkov's satires are far more effective because they are current.) I felt at times Pelevin was trying to be a bit much like Joseph Heller and coming well short.

Still, there were moments when the protagonists observations were thought-provoking or the prose evocative. While it failed to attain any great heights (or, indeed, reach the moon), it equally succeeded in avoiding any unfathomable depths.

After a frustrating day at work yesterday, a thought occurred to me on the train: Perhaps this isn't really a satire of the Soviets. No, it's actually a satire of the current worldwide internet scene. The completely absurd and outlandish description of the cosmonaut program captures precisely the sort of thinking that no doubt dominates Microsoft, especially their browser development. Perhaps Pelevin should have made this more obvious.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Nov. 24th, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
Who Ra
Some days the local newspaper seems more like a satire or jape than news reporting. The real world, as seen through the eyes of that vanishing breed, reporters, becomes completely absurd and outlandish. I used to enjoy reading the paper for that touch of whimsy my perceptions inject. Now, of course, my eyes just make reading painful.

Reading your review I realized that I would hate to work as a writer of the blurbs tacked onto books in the hope of selling them. Perhaps that's why so few reviewers actually read the books they write about: they hate writing about the writing somebody else has done. I would feel obligated to actually read the books. I become a very slow reader when I'm trying to extract content and style instead of just enjoying it.

Why attack the Russians of half a century past? To limit your audience to those of sufficient age and maturity to recognize that almost any government effort could be substituted for the one portrayed. Kids won't give a damn.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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