Nancy's Reviews > The Russian Debutante's Handbook

The Russian Debutante's Handbook by Gary Shteyngart
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's review
Jul 15, 2011

liked it

Okay. Felt the characterizations were a bit weakly organized and trite. Somewhat predictable...I kind of would have preferred it if Vladimir died in a blaze of fiery glory instead of hobbling around with broken ribs, spewing up blood and somehow magically making it past customs and onto a plane while The Groundhog and his cohorts are beaten senseless. A little too much "Hollywood ending"...I mean, seriously, does Vladimir have to whisper, "my poor people" as he's standing there gushing blood, having escaped certain death for now a fourth time (at least), magical plane ticket back to America in hand and watching The Groundhog get plastered by a billy-club-weilding Stolovan(?). Silly. I kind of get the feeling Shteyngart wrote this hoping to have it turned into a blockbuster movie with an "indie" flair at some point. Is it the next "Juno" creation?

Author also flipped from 3rd person limited to 3rd person omnicient at odd times and for little or no reason. It would have been an interesting diversion had he maintained such brief glimpses into the other characters' psyches periodically throughout the text. However, he doesn't. In fact, of all the characters, Vladimir might be the least interesting. Scratch that, he's probably more interesting than Cohen and Alexandra. But really, I would have much rather had a little bit more information abour Morgan and her background...even Challa and Baobab (who's named after a ridiculous tree in The Little Prince by the way - that right there could constitute and entire chapter).

Book didn't quite live up to all of the accolades, but I'm considering reading his follow-up Absurdistan just for safe measure.

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