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Novel with Cocaine (European Classics) Paperback – October 28, 1998
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The first two thirds of the book gave a few interesting details of life in Russia just before the Revolution, but other than that I foundit very uninteresting. It is not until alomst the end of the book that the element of cocaine is even introduced and when it is the book quickly winds to its unsurprising end.
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.
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.