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The Clay Machine-Gun

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,268 Ratings  ·  141 Reviews
A manic satire of psychiatry, crime and corruption in Russia. Peter Null is undergoing treatment in Moscow's Psychiatric Clinic number 17, where his consultant believes the way to treat his condition is to humour his delusive personality until it achieves reintegration with the rest of his psyche.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published August 21st 2002 by Faber & Faber (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lisa
What does it feel like to be on a roller coaster?

It is hilarious, and it makes you feel giddy, dizzy, confused, almost weightless, and slightly nauseous and disoriented.

Well, I think “Roller Coaster” would have been a great title for this wondrous novel, even though I eventually managed to understand both the British publisher’s choice of “The Clay Machine Gun”, and the American title “Buddha’s Little Finger”. Basically, those two titles mean the same thing, just viewed from different perspecti
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BlackOxford
A Dialectical Comedy

Victor Pelevin has created a dialectical dream-world: two opposing dreams contained within each other, dreamed by the same protagonist. In one, he suffers the traumas and excitements of the Russian Revolution. In the other, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he undergoes therapy for "split false-personalities" and loss of memory. He attempts to find himself, or Russia as the case may be, in both dreams. 

"The Russian people realised very long ago that life is no more than
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Emma
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favourite books of all time. A mind-blowing, orgiastic blend of Buddhist philosophy and Russian humour, with so much depth you could read it a hundred times and still miss something. I only wish my Russian were good enough to allow me to read it in the original and understand the many allusions to modern Russian life. Even in translation, this is a work on consummate genius, and it's astonishing that Pelevin isn't better known in the West.
Alexei
Oct 14, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
In a word: horrible. In two: disastrously horrible. I have a dubious advantage to read this book in Russian - Pelevin's mother tongue (and mine too). Its original title is "Chapaev and Pustota" (Chapaev is a famous Soviet commander of Civil War-period and Pustota, the surname of protagonist, means "emptiness" or "void" in Russian). Here Chapaev is a boddhisatva (well, sort of) who preaches to Pyotr Pustota - decadent poet and a patient of asylum runned my mysterious doctor Kanashnikov. Not only ...more
David Katzman
Jul 16, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the experimental, surreal, philosophy and/or Buddhism
Wow. This is one messed up book. It’s not typical messed up. It is screw-with your-head messed up. And it’s messing-with-novelistic-conventions (which I typically love) messed up.

When I started writing my first novel, Death by Zamboni, I had only one original intention in mind. To break every single convention of fiction writing that I could think of. I approached it from a comedic perspective and had fun with it. It’s also a satire, of course, of commercialism and “entertainment,” as it turned
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El
Jan 24, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (203/1001)
I'm not ashamed to admit when I don't "get" a book. I'm a pretty smart cookie for the most part - I finished school, got a degree, read a bunch, like to learn things and have discussions - but when something is beyond me I don't like to pretend that it must be cool just because I didn't get it. This is one of those books that people have raved about since it came out. They say things like, "It's not an easy book, but..." and they imply that if you don't "get it" then you must not be very smart o ...more
Nate
Jun 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: russians
Long live Chapaev. And Arnold Schwartzenegger.
Ursula
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Weird, deeply weird. Multiple storylines, interludes from other points of view, philosophy and history all rolled into one. The main character, Pyotr Voyd (the name is no accident), is in a present-day mental hospital, but he's also living a life in early-20th century Russia as an associate of Chapaev (an actual historical figure). Or is that just Pyotr's delusion? Does he need to be cured or does the rest of the world?

I'm not much for philosophy, and I admit that my knowledge of Russian history
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Jelena
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Postmodernizam. Ruski postmodernizam. Bio je to ringišpil.

Roman počinje pronadjenim tekstom/spisom i koji objašnjava tekst koji slijedi poslije njega. I tu se već postavljaju pitanja koja su ključna u romanu.
Roman prati Petra Prazninu koji živi u Rusiji 90-ih godina i koji završava u ludnici (to saznajete tek na kraju jer nemate blage veze šta se radi bar do polovine, ali tek na kraju možda saznate šta se dešava). U ludnici se već nalaze tri bolesnika Volodin, Marija (muško) i Serdjuk i mi prati
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The 1001 list says "The Clay Machine-Gun" but when I typed the title here at goodreads what came out was this. If I didn't finish reading the book, I would have been flummoxed by this change from a machine-gun to Buddha's finger (indeed, briefly, I was, except that I quickly remembered that the clay machine-gun here supposedly contained Buddha's finger which, when fired, makes things disappear).

Anyway, despite the buoyancy I enjoyed while drinking bubbly San Miguel beer (the best beer in the wor
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Arkadiy Volkov
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
В прошлый раз я его читал в одиннадцатом, что ли, классе, а перечитать решил после этой вот статьи: http://mkazak.narod.ru/cult/texts/pel...
Прекрасная все-таки штука.
Rick Slane
I think the narrator was a mental patient who thought he was in the red or white army between 1921-1923. He also records some of his dreams. There are 10 chapters and I did not really enjoy much but the last two chapters redeemed the entire work for me. I would think this is a must read for Russian readers. I thought of so many other authors and works to compare this to that it became unmanageable to do so and I will call it very original instead.
Simon
Jul 15, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, novel, owned
Pelevin was suggested to me by a friend and former Russian lit major as "the voice of the '90s". Knowing a bit about this period in post-Soviet history is certainly helpful in understanding the appeal of this book. A fast-paced postmodernist novel, "Buddha's Little Finger" is less of a story than a web of interwoven tales full of Russian history, contemporary social criticism, and Buddhist mysticism. Pelevin, besides having published several novels, is also a prolific author of short stories, an ...more
Oto Bakradze
mind-fucked. :o

სრული სიგიჟე.

რა წავიკითხო ეხლა ამაზე მაგარი?!
Sandra
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandra by: Jurijs
Shelves: reviewed
***

Но я что-то слишком долго говорю. По правде сказать, я был намерен молчать до самого расстрела.

***

Шварценеггер снял очки.
Его левый глаз был чуть сощурен и выражал очень ясную и одновременно неизмеримо сложную гамму чувств, среди которых были смешанные в строгой пропорции жизнелюбие, сила, здоровая любовь к детям, моральная поддержка американского автомобилестроения в его нелегкой схватке с Японией, признание прав сексуальных меньшинств, легкая ирония по поводу феминизма и спокойное осознание
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Thurston Hunger
Liked "Omon Ra" quite a bit, and loved "Yellow Arrow." But this one was a little rougher going for me, I think I do not know enough about Russian history. That and I haven't had a psychotic break...yet. The actual title from Russian is "Chapaev and Pustota" where the former character evidently is a real Russian historical character and the latter is our hero, and translated here with an anglicized name of Voyd.

And there is wordplay a plenty, (Vorblei becomes Fourply, Anna becomes part of a phras
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Mircalla64
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: postmoderni, russia
L'essere e il nulla


"Dì un po', Volòdin, tu ci credi alla fine del mondo?
Questa è una faccenda strettamente individuale, rispose Volòdin.
Un ceceno prende e ti spara, ed eccotela qua la fine del mondo."

"...dopo la morte ai tempi di Stalin c'era l'ateismo, e ora c'è di nuovo la religione. E secondo la religione, dopo la morte è tutto come ai tempi di Stalin. Prova a immaginare com'era allora: tutti sanno che di notte al Cremlino resta sempre quella finestra accesa, e dietro la finestra c'è Lui. Lui
...more
Deanne
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fun read, the idea that a patient suffering from delusions can be humoured until his psyche reintergrates strikes me as bizarre. However the journey through the various delusions and the characters that reside there is interesting.
Often wondered where the delusions were set, was it in a Russia that had ever existed?.
Rick Goff
Dec 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Collecting my thoughts. Loved it. Ten chapters,each utterly unique, traversing a whole lot of metaphysical ground against a backdrop of various Russian contexts. I hope somebody's made a list of "Books you'll love if you loved _Buddha's Little Finger_".
Riorei
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

one of my all time favourites, fantastic masterpiece, hats off!
Dennis
Jun 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite simply an amazing novel written by a virtuoso writer. Pelevin ranges easily into the mystical without ever straining this reader's credulity. It's as if he knows his way around. Maybe he does.
Anu Pedosk
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tore raamat, pseudofilosoofiline sügavik, sobival ajastul sirgunule kuldselt nostalgiline.
Antonina Sh
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Вторая прочитанная мной книга Пелевина (не считая Жизни насекомых, прочитанной еще в "несознательные" годы, и соответственно ни черта не понятой), и кажется намечается какая-то тенденция.
Ощущение, что книга как писалась, так и читается - будто в состоянии запредельного наркотического кайфа и наркотического же просветления.
Читается быстро, легко и с восторгом, и местами действительно как-будто наступает какое-то небесное просветление - вот же она, суть, вот он смысл, все существование - как тепер
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J.M. Hushour
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more "Third Policeman"-y or Vonnegutty than "cyber Nabokovian" or whatever the hell that stupid blurb says. In fact, if I didn't think it highly unlikely, I'd say Pelevin was offering up his own answer to Flann O'Brien's absurdist take on existence, for this is what "Finger" is. It's a multi-layered romp through the experiences of two versions of the same fellow, one during the Russian Civil War, the other in Yelstin's Russia in a psychiatric hospital. What is real? What isn't? What is ' ...more
Ivan Bogdanov
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Принципно Пелевин е повече философ отколкото писател. Всичките му книги, които съм че са пълни съсъ сериозни философски разсъждения. Но не бях подготвен за това, което ме посрещна в тази книга.
Тя по същество е един философски трактат за смисъла на съществуването. Сюжет и действие почти няма, фрагментирано е и е по-скоро допълнение към философските разсъждения.
Не се наемам да обобщя какво пише вътре, определено ще се чете още няколко пъти.
Но научих много за пустотата и най-вече за тази вътре в м
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Emilis Kuke
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Pradžioje (perskaitęs kokių 70 p.) niekaip nesupratau, kas per nesąmonė su Švarcnegeriu ir kam reikalingi POP kultūros simboliai. Ir iš viso dėl ko Peleviną nešioja ant rankų tiek rusai, tiek likęs pasaulis. Iš to pasimetimo netgi pradėjau lyginti su Bulgakov'u (su kuo dažniausiai internete skai2iau, kad Pelevin'as lyginimaas) ir pagalvojau, kad Bugakovas nenaudojo POP kultūros elementų. Tačiau, staiga, atėjo suvokimas, kad Bugakovas naudojo POP kultūros elementus tik praeito šimtmečio. Ir jie k ...more
Tyler
Sep 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
honestly, i didn't particularly care for the plot or characters. but there's a larger metaphysical discussion weaving in and out of the text that i found fascinating. its sort of like reading about quantum physics-- you feel yourself being nudged towards a precipice that marks the boundary of everyday consciousness.

И~N
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Hard to say I liked it. Probably because of the too high expectations I had before-hand. Though, I got what was happening in the end and this made me have a better opinion of the book.
Andy Sykes
May 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must have read this book about twenty times, and each time I discover some new allegory. Highly recommended.
Alexey Yudichev
Sep 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Это не стоит слов, это надо читать. Шедевр. Фантастический язык, философия пустоты, сносящая крышу. А в этом году немцы ещё и фильм по книге сделают.
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"Victor Olegovich Pelevin is a Russian fiction writer. His books usually carry the outward conventions of the science fiction genre, but are used to construct involved, multi-layered postmodernist texts, fusing together elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies. Some critics relate his prose to the New Sincerity and New Realism literary movements." (Wikipedia)

See also http://en.wikipedia.
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More about Victor Pelevin...

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“I was surrounded on all sides by the indifferent torpidity of summer, somewhere there were dogs barking lazily, while the machine-gun barrel of the sun was strafing the earth in a continuous, never-ending burst of fire.” 4 likes
“Любовь, в
сущности, возникает в одиночестве, когда рядом нет ее объекта, и
направлена она не столько на того или ту, кого любишь, сколько на
выстроенный умом образ, слабо связанный с оригиналом.”
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