zxvasdf's Reviews > The Slynx

The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
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May 26, 12

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Read from May 16 to 22, 2012

This book is funny as hell. And scary as hell. Should the world as we know it go away, what do we leave the people in the future, with our artifacts of pride and hubris? What will they make of it? What comical and lamentable distortions shall arise?

The characters of this Russia are filled with a deep-seated cynicism and distrust which is almost indistinguishable from a delirious sense of naivete and fealty—a fiercely schizophrenic state that is an oxymoron of Russian existence. Tatyana Tolstaya manipulates this essence of Russia with impossible wizardy to put the reader in juxtaposes of mirthful horror. This is a skill that is unique to Russian writers.

Benedikt discovers books. He can't get enough of it, he is like an insatiable inferno which devours and devours. He reads and reads and reads. But the problem with Benedikt is that he doesn't retain the valuable lessons and knowledge the books give. He is content to peer in each, the act of passing the gaze across the parade of characters enough for him. Benedikt is special. It's like his brain is hollow. He's capable of figuring things out, but also interprets his thoughts through a filter of literalism and superstition, and is too impressionable.

The Slynx is a parable of books in a fool's hand, when the quest is not for one of knowledge but the addict's thirst for more and more. I propose, in contrary to the opinions of many who have reviewed this, that this book is the anti-thesis of Fahrenheit 451. Books are the bane of existence not because of the knowledge inherent, but because the people don't know what to do with books. They'd ruin it, destroy the lovely pages for igniting the stove or, horrors abound!, tacked to the wall for when one does the necessary.

The very final passage has left me venturing into the realm of angels and demons, or perhaps that of gods in the land of fools... With a single sentence of Lev Lvovich and Nikita Ivanich, Miss Tolstaya has added a dimension to the narrative that potentially transforms the entire book in retrospect. What the hell is going on here, people?! It's not a bad ending, it's the best possbile, but it's left me beating my head, wondering if I missed anything due to my minimal knowledge of Russian cultural and historical reference.
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