Absurd and disturbingly poignant, reading Pelevin's 'Omon Ra' feels akin to taking LSD and staring at a child's mobile of the solar system as the drugAbsurd and disturbingly poignant, reading Pelevin's 'Omon Ra' feels akin to taking LSD and staring at a child's mobile of the solar system as the drug wears off (possibly while suspended in a harness, wearing full SCUBA gear and after several months of eating only star-shaped noodles in a bland chicken and cabbage broth as your sole form of sustenance).
It runs the full course of: normality - LSD - coming down from LSD - becoming aware of new surroundings - questioning new surroundings - questioning everything - carrying on as normal. Of course, the tale itself contains no LSD, but reading it certainly feels that way.
I'm torn in that I can't say that I "liked" it, but I still liked it. It made me question the passive nature of man, and our acceptance of subterfuge when we can reconcile it with our own dreams. I was reminded, perhaps unduly, of Philip K Dick's 'A Scanner Darkly' crossed between the film 'Waking Life'. I can't explain that, maybe it's just the drugs.
There is a veiled dark humour behind the absurdity. Something I think was made more clear by the particular translation I read (thank you Yuri Machkasov and your glorious footnotes!). Otherwise the reader might be confused, or simply oblivious, to certain culturally specific references. I can imagine this book is hilariously on par with Orwell's '1984' when read in it's original text, but without a lot of the background history you'd be almost forgiven for missing the punchline.
Overall - a bleak and hilarious look at Russian space flight from the perspective of a dreamer who became an 'insider'. Explored through the eyes of a willingly unwilling cosmonaut, the setup is glaringly analogous to that of the American moon-landing "conspiracy". Anyone who scrutinised and relished that idea will no doubt enjoy Victor Pelevin's 'Oman Ra' as well....more
It begins as a wonderful exploration of trees and wood in England. Deakin talks about the native biodiversity and how that has changed. He talks aboutIt begins as a wonderful exploration of trees and wood in England. Deakin talks about the native biodiversity and how that has changed. He talks about specific kinds of wood and their importance and history. He talks about the beauty of nature; of mythology; and dependence. It was beautiful and informative. But the book is somewhat disjointed. About halfway through, it starts to ramble and feels like a regular journal. Then it suddenly loses focus completely and becomes a piece of regular travel writing. Deakin comes to Australia and spends great lengths of time talking about art, wine and meeting up with old friends. Every so often he peppers the text with an anecdote about a tree. Then he miraculously doubles back when he travels to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan; sharing the remarkable relationship these people have with the land and the apple trees and walnut trees. While it was well-written, I didn't feel that it was well-balanced. I'm a lover of books on natural history, and was expecting more of the same, so I was left disappointed after this lighthearted 'journey' through a topic that really has more substance....more