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Helpful Votes: 22

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star, August 4, 2015
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It arrived dead

Panic in a Suitcase: A Novel
Panic in a Suitcase: A Novel
by Yelena Akhtiorskaya
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.34
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Vocabulary Lesson, August 25, 2014
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I wanted to love Panic in a Suitcase, I really did. Just like the author, I immigrated from the s*** stain of Ukraine at the lucky age of seven, and grew up in what I like to call the a** crack of Brooklyn. This novel was supposed to be as familiar to me as a heaping bowl of hot borscht and a stale piece of pumpernickel bread. Instead, I felt a bit like an oblivious tourist in my own city; by trying too hard to resist cliche, the author neglected to represent authentic immigrant culture.
The first part of the book took a measurable effort to get through. It seemed to me, Akhtiorskaya's grandiloquent storytelling was intended to impress Columbia professors and New York Times critics, not us, mere humans. Clearly, the book's main intent was not about appealing to the average reader. That aspect was slightly off putting, albeit very much in line with the culture that is at the center of this book. This is not to say that there was nothing about the language to be admired; occasionally it was artful and inventive, but at other times, outright pompous. In Part One, the characters we meet are quirky, yet lackluster. They have the potential to be entertaining, but they never quite get there. Pasha is simply boring and so is his coterie of pals. It was hard work trying to stay engaged for the first 150 pages, but many thanks for the vocabulary lesson. I found the narration just intriguing enough to hang on, though even fun incidents such as Marina feeding her Hasidic boss' child pepperoni pizza were considerably dulled by all the unnecessary ten dollar words. Thankfully, in Part Two the author eased up on the word aerobics. I found myself wishing I hadn't wasted my time with Part One and skipped to Part Two from the start. The connection between the two parts was super weak, one can easily exist without the other. Despite all the aforementioned critique, I really look forward to this authors next book, I am interested in seeing how her work will evolve.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 25, 2015 8:04 PM PDT

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