Cynthia's Reviews > There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
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's review
Oct 07, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: books-read-in-2009
Read in October, 2009

Petrushevskaya creates a world of aloneness. Even in the presence of others there is isolation, hopelessness. Survival is the highest good for which to strive. Mental and physical weakness is evil because it can destroy the individual and their companions. The settings and happenings are fantastic or worse, just real enough to tilt into horror. ALL the characters are classic unreliable narrators OR are their perceptions rawly real? The ground is always shifting underfoot....your heart slithers around in your chest.

The stories could be set anywhere, at any time. Seemingly unrelated things are shown in relation. People and situations appear out of nowhere and the stories end abruptly like something out of a dream. You wake thinking, "huh?" yet there's a certain sense, if not a logic, at work but only if you allow yourself to slip into the numinous, into allegory. Rooms are a recurring metaphor, empty rooms that protect and threaten codependently. Rooms full of nothing and no one yet things and saviors appear when needed, nothing makes sense until it suddenly does. Wisdom is vertical, given, not learned. When it's needed it appears. The stories are at once horrific and cradling. Everyone is in need of saving. ""Please," whispered the girl, "please save me."" (from "The Black Coat"). Help arrives.
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