Why disappointing? Because when I ordered it, I expected new stories rather than reprints from The Blue Lantern (see it for a review of the stories). However, if you've never read Pelevin, this is a small collection to get you started. The mystical chickens Hermit and Six-Toes are unforgettable. A commune from the perspective of a shed, the transformation of public bathrooms to trinket store ... Pelevin provides a funny and deep insight into human nature, especially the Russian variety.
These four quick stories give an instant feel for Pelevin: the absurd, the metaphysical, post-Soviet cultural realities, existential searching, intermittently subtle and grotesque humor, and scattered camouflaged Buddhist metaphors. Pelevin is a reincarnated Daniil Kharms!
Pavel Somov, Ph.D.
The four stories in this short collection are perceptive, fiercely imaginative, and wildly funny. My favorite, "The Life and Adventures of Shed Number XII," is told from the viewpoint of a storage shed that dreams of being the bicycle it stores, then loses the dream when a barrel of cucumbers replaces the bicycle, before finally recapturing its memory of the freedom it yearns to achieve. Similarly, "Hermit and Six Toes" concerns two chickens who want something better than the fate that awaits them on a production line. While those two allegorical tales stand out, I also enjoyed the two stories about people, particularly the story of a woman whose job as a men's room attendant is transformed by perestroika when the men's room becomes a shopping outlet--albeit one that retains its memory of sewage. That story and the final one (a satirical look at leadership in the USSR) would probably be even more enjoyable for those who have a more intimate knowledge of recent Russian history. That sort of background isn't necessary, however, to appreciate Pelevin's unique vision. Any fan of strong, inventive writing infused with sharp humor should enjoy this collection.