Slow Thinker

It took me until page 386 to figure out that the characters in Bykov’s novel are based on famous historical figures in Stalin’s USSR. And such fascinating figures.

Great novel.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Folks, I have a feeling that my plan to read the most important works of contemporary Russian literature will not come to fruition. I’m so enjoying the very first novel on my list that I will now end up reading everything the author has ever published.

On the one hand, it’s a great sign that the first novel I grabbed turned out great. But one the other, I’m now going to fall into one of my reading rabbit holes and not make any progress on the list.

I literally haven’t read any new prose in Russian that I enjoyed in 20 years. Or maybe it’s more like 25. I can’t explain how excited I am to see that there’s finally literature being written in Russian.

Different Perspective

In Dmitry Bykov’s novel, there’s a character, a young woman called Alya who lived in France for many years and then returned to the USSR in late 1930s. She’s super excited about the Soviet system and gushes about it endlessly.

“Back in Paris, men would constantly hit on me!” Alya exclaims. “And here nobody gives me a single look! I feel so safe and comfortable.”

“You dumb little fool,” thinks her Soviet boyfriend. “Nobody hits on you because people are hungry and terrified. Nobody has any energy to flirt. We aren’t enlightened. We are beaten down.”

Fake Therapist

If you ever meet a “therapist” of the kind elle describes, please leave immediately. The quack will do grave damage to you. Nobody is “wired” to be depressed. Nobody is “wired,” period. We are human beings, not machines. And if a therapist tells you that you are an alcoholic forever or a depressive by nature, he’s a bad person who wishes you ill. How would you feel if a therapist told you it’s your nature to be raped? Or beaten? “You are just wired to be a victim, so let’s see how we can manage your abuse more efficiently.”

Also, this cloying business speak, as in “manage anxiety,” is absolutely disgusting. Huge ⛳⛳⛳🚩🚩🚩.

Strangely, this “wired” language is only used for psychological conditions. You can have every relative dead of a stroke before the age of 40 (a real situation of somebody I know), and still the doctors don’t tell you that you are “wired” to bite it and your high BP “isn’t going anywhere”. They try to get you to a place where genetics is counterbalanced by a healthy lifestyle, healthy weight, appropriate exercise. And if a patient follows directions, he beats the odds (the same real situation mentioned before. The person in question is very much alive and doing great.)

Miracle of Nature

Yes, the seasonality of respiratory viruses is truly one of nature’s greatest miracles.

We are in year 2 of people feeling stunned that nature exists and is governed by laws outside of their control.