Sandra Newman's Reviews > Путь Бро

Путь Бро by Vladimir Sorokin
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it was amazing

Writing a review on the Russian version of the book, because I read it in Russian, but also because I couldn't find the English version of this book, separately from the trilogy to which it belongs. The trilogy is available in a single volume as The Ice Trilogy. Anyway, with this book, I don't think it will make all that much difference whether the translation is good or bad.

The wonderful thing about this book is that it's both truly bizarre and incredibly convincing. It begins very much in the mode of a Russian memoir - childhood days before the Revolution, the narrator's soft-hearted mother and strict father, first love at the age of nine, the usual sentimentality attached to landscape - and goes on in that lyrical/realist vein for roughly the first half of the book. Then it takes a sharp left turn... [SPOILER ALERT] the narrator discovers that he is actually part of a primordial God Figure whose mission is to wake all the other 23,000 people who constitute the rays of light from which the Creator God was composed. You awaken these people by hitting them in the chest with a hammer made from ice harvested from a meteorite that struck the Earth in the wilds of Siberia. It's that simple. Once all the people are awakened, they will join hands and destroy the universe. Then they'll make a much better universe, since this one was obviously a stupid mistake.

Once this mission is discovered, the book becomes incredibly repetitive. The god-people seek their own unawakened people and awaken them, and then go on and seek other unawakened god-people. From here on, most of the interest of the book consists in seeing the history of the early-mid 20th century (Stalinism, the rise of Hitler, the Holocaust) through the eyes of the god-people. To them, human beings are "meat machines" with no more importance than plants. So the concentration camps are basically very convenient, because large groups of people are collected in one place, which makes seeking the unawakened gods among them very easy.

Basically your experience of this book will depend on the degree to which you can identify with the god-people. On the one hand, the experiences are rendered so powerfully that you tend to get drawn in; on the other hand, the god-people lose all personality, once awakened. Their lives center around moments of incommunicable bliss, they have no sense of humor, and all they do is collect money/god-people for the cause - very much like actual devotees of actual cults. So sometimes you identify with them, and it becomes a simple fantasy about meeting the "real people" who will truly understand you (if you have any such fantasies). And then sometimes it's just an experience of trudging through Auschwitz with these somewhat dreary automatons who constitute God. This part of the experience will feel eerily familiar to anyone who's ever read much about God that was written by people who really believe in God.
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Started Reading
March 23, 2013 – Shelved
March 23, 2013 – Finished Reading

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Regina No comment - just a question. Have you also read the last part of the triology? As I have read it in German and the German Version is said to differ from the Russian one I would like a lot to know the Russian end, so if you have read it, it would be great if you can tell me! Thanks!

Sandra Newman I'm going to try to remember this correctly (it's been a while)… Okay, in the end, after they've collected the final ice people, all the ice people join hands and we think they're going to destroy the universe.

But the two non-ice people who feature in book three, who are present for this event, wake up to find all the ice people lying dead. Then (if I recall this correctly) they stumble away to tell the tale, implicitly starting a new religion. Though actually I'm a little fuzzy on what happens after they stumble away.

Is that similar to the German version? I'm not sure about details here, again, as it's been a few years.

Regina thank you very much for your response. Seems the same end as in German, maybe my information was wrong.

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