John's Reviews > The Return and Other Stories

The Return and Other Stories by Andrei Platonov
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's review
Apr 25, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010, short_stories, russians
Read in April, 2010

I read this for "The Rubbish Wind," "The River Potudan," and "The Return." When reading Platonov, it's hard to shake the feeling that he was someone who desperately longed to not exist, or to somehow un-exist. His characters, both in The Foundation Pit and here (with the exception of the protagonist of "The Return") yearn to dissolve into nothing, and their actions to that end are often disturbing. In fact, the only other book that I think disturbed me as much as The Foundation Pit in recent years was Thomas Ligotti's My Work Is Not Yet Done: Three Tales of Corporate Horror, and although they are very different books from very different times, I suspect there is some similar kernel at the heart of both writers.

In the "Rubbish Wind" the road to the main character's non-existence is shockingly gruesome, something that I imagine would make even Quentin Tarantino choke back his lunch. In "The River Potudan," the main character's non-existence is a more touching, cleansing, almost Catholic self denial that gives him the ability to understand and accept love when it's almost too late.

"The Return," however, is the reason I picked up this collection. The story of a man returned from war to find his family changed, it packs into its few pages a sad yet somehow redeeming portrayal of human weakness and acceptance. It's a story that Chekhov would have been proud to have written, and it sounds a note of hope for the human soul that is an amazing statement from the author of deeply nihilst The Foundation Pit.
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05/04 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3)

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message 3: by Alan (new) - added it

Alan sounds fascinating John, don't know him at all. Will add..

John Cool, thanks for the note. I'm looking forward to your thoughts when you get around to reading it.

Richard My thoughts exactly. Rereading this again, always shocked by his ability to put beauty inside foulness, next to decay, beside mange and stinking death. I think you are half correct, I get the sense that he did want to un exist, but also to have his energy his life source reborn, to escape his trash heap life. Living under a stair well, virtually dead to his nation, his people, his hopes, the dream that sustained him as a youngman ate his son, which in turn diseased him, eventually killing him. And yet? His words are like nothing Ive ever read: a magical social realism of despair and never a trite saying, every word is chosen by this king of high literature and strung like a unique pearl onto a necklace of words that blinds you, takes you into the world of myth, of a heaviness of meaning next to death and in reading Platonov you realize we are his characters, dying in trash heaps. With our gadgets, accoutrements, pride we may be more pitiful than Platonov or his characters.

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