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Novel with Cocaine (European Classics) Paperback – October 28, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: European Classics
  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (October 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810117096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810117099
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fascinating . . . Reminiscent of Nabokov's eccentric precision." --John Updike


"Accomplished writing." 

Publishers Weekly

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
Ageyev gives us the moment-to-moment REAL stuff that actually matters.
Oz du Soleil
The novel's themes, meme, vistas....I've seen them all in various manifestations in other novels.
ivona poyntz
There is a depth of honesty here that is both raw and extremely sensitive.
Flippy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J from NY VINE VOICE on June 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
This strange little tale of a young man's descent into cocaine addiction is less interesting for it's portrayal of the youthful anti-hero's chemical use as his astounding philosophical insights. Vadim does not actually use cocaine until the end of the novel ('the beginning of the end', as it were) and the novel is mostly composed of his Dostoevskian self loathing and inability to relate to his peers on any level. It is almost an exercise in depressive solipsism; while Vadim's peers play a large role in the novel his inner world is so tortured and miles apart from them that the author might as well have portrayed him as a complete misanthrope. In the opening we get a feel for where his moral compass is swinging; he gives a venereal disease to a young woman in full cognizance of what he is doing. He agonizes over it, but this does not prevent him from actually doing it. The most catching scenes in the novel are when his classmates, thrown into a kind of cocaine induced revolt against the orthodoxy of the school they attend, verbally attack priests and teachers. Burkewitz, a character we encounter later in the book, gives a particularly interesting speech to the headmaster priest of the school in the middle of a sermon. There are thoroughly disturbing scenes; Vadim strikes his mother, steals from her, all the while recognizing her basic goodness and frail attempts to relate to him. Vadim wants to consider himself exceptional, a unique student and son, and at the same time loathes himself. Many of his self evaluations strike a schizoid note. His entrance into the world of cocaine use is preceded by his rejection of a girl with whom he was too fearful to consummate his relationship. Like everyone else, she has a false image of him and rejects him entirely when he fails to live up to it.Read more ›
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 7, 1996
Format: Paperback
Losing his "nasal virginity" in an adventure into the wonders and horrors
of cocaine addiction, the central character finds his answer to insecurity and
social ineptitude in a potent white powder as his peer in The Overcoat seeks the
same comfort in a dark, tattered garment.

If the pseudonym doesn't give it away, this anonymous author provides another dim glance into
nineteenth century St. Petersberg that seems a brushstroke within the same portrait alongside those by Gogol and Dostoevsky. Imagine
the Underground Man not tormenting his maid, but out in the streets snorting cocaine, searching
for a female companion.

Novel with Cocaine is not essential reading, but it is another worthwhile
glimpse at the literary products of desperate and dark nineteenth century St. Petersberg.
Glorification of drug use is a problem in the late twentieth century. Novel with Cocaine will
force you to think again with grave reluctance that neither McInerney nor Ellis have been
able to posit in the minds of their readers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ivona poyntz on November 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
The gall of Nabokov scorning this novel as `disgusting'(which it is, but that's beside the point. Pot? Kettle?). Disgusting, degenerate, harrowing, eternally haunting: Agayev has the uncanny ability to grasp the macabre and ply his chisel in its spent chamber: twisting, furling, stretching: convex, concave: peels it open and reams out the sinews of sin and depravity. And cocaine has nothing to do with it at all: Vadim had surrendered in the cemetery of his soul long before the white stuff left him hallowed and prostrate beneath a shivering canopy of riddled meaning left unrolled.

The novel's themes, meme, vistas....I've seen them all in various manifestations in other novels. But here, well. There is a bountry of withered everywhere. Take the lack of filial piety. The scenes of depravity which unroll in the silver dimness of the storyboard, of son against mother, build up excruciatingly to a crescendo of assonance and then arrest in a tableau vivant, giving us breathing space to take in the conaissance of pure evil (not surprisingly escalating to indirect matricide). The description of Vadim's mother is truly a haunting image that will persevere in the void sown in my heart forever.

The finale is a breathtaking texture of a trembling gloom, arched and intervalled with the solemn cords of the protagonists destroyed cohesion and finally, his swan song, as he propels ever forward in his tireless pinioned flight into oblivion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Flippy on December 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is the novel I needed.

There is a depth of honesty here that is both raw and extremely sensitive. Vadim Maslennikov's narration begins in school, focusing on the rise of a fellow student, Burkewitz. The narrator is ashamed of his mother and her rags and attempts to live in a world distant from his background. Throughout the course of the novel, from school to a marred love affair to losing his 'nasal virginity' (i.e. taking cocaine), Vadim explores the extremes of his personality, philosophizing, offering the reader insights into his and the human condition.

If you enjoy Dostoevsky, Hamsun and Rimbaud, this book is a must. The prose is poetic, scintillating at times, offering a beautiful panorama of the Russian world at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Revolution is in the muted background but the pain of war, the sense of isolation and loneliness all persist in the forefront. Vadim is like the narrators of 'Notes from the Underground', 'Hunger' and 'The Drunken Boat' - alive, swelling with life, longings and ravenous emotions. I read it in a day and know I'll probably have to read it again because there are wondrous layers to this book. These are the books that feel so close to life, to the trembling highs and lows we experience in youth and early adulthood. The author remains unknown but the legacy of this book deserves a renowned place amongst the greater cannon of writers of this genre. It looks forward to J.D. Salinger and Bret Easton Ellis. I highly recommend this novel - it is an experience.
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