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Novel with Cocaine (European Classics) Paperback – October 28, 1998
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Original Language: Russian
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Might we say that it's existentialist in it thinking? The individual caught in a universe that really doesn't give a damn about the individual... and the individual's struggle to find something to do, and a place to fit.
Camus and Sartre are puny little runts compared to Ageyev! Ageyev gives us the moment-to-moment REAL stuff that actually matters. One character goes up in front of his high school math classs to work out a problem... he sneezes and boogers are hanging out of his face while the class laughs. How does he deal with this?
Ageyev keeps his work as something regular folks can identify with. Not all of his situations deal with boogers (or things just as gross), but they're all common enough to keep a reader's interest without drawing the reader into pompous brain-teasers that few of us can access.
Conversely, Camus and Sartre take us into a high-minded realm which is interesting, but when will I ever have to think about whether or not to kill a wheelchair-bound guy because he doesn't have the nerve to do it himself? How many of our lives are impacted by such decisions?
Ageyev is much more interesting. He's a great writer. He's got a great sense of humor and he's FIRMLY rooted in common existence.
Though the book is titled "A Novel with Cocaine," sure there's a great deal about the main characters travels through the underworld of drugs and drug people and the activities between them. But, I think that this is more of a way for the writer to access his more interesting ideas--as opposed to writing a book that's really about cocaine.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Written perhaps over hundred years ago and we think the drug issue is new; it is part of the human conditionPublished on December 16, 2013 by Gadadhar
this novel is written in the stark russian vien, but i think its actually by a turk. If you love rusian literature and hate Tolstoy, you will love this book. Read morePublished on July 28, 2012 by tarnation