Category: Eastern Europe

Apr 15 2019

Lost Kingdom by Serhii Plokhy

Having recently written a national history of Ukraine, Plokhy turns his attention to the history of the junior eastern Slavic nation, Russia. A fair portion of Lost Kingdom describes how and why my opening sentence would outrage Russian ideologues, rulers and historians. The titles of the book’s sections reveal important aspects of his argument: Inventing …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/15/lost-kingdom-by-serhii-plokhy/

Apr 05 2019

Border by Kapka Kassabova

I’ve been to this border before, though I’ve never been to the particular corner of Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece that Kapka Kassabova visits. “But the initial emotional impulse behind my journey was simple: I wanted to see the forbidden places of my childhood, the once-militarised border villages and towns, rivers and forests that had been …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/04/05/border-by-kapka-kassabova/

Feb 24 2019

Expedition zu den Polen by Steffen Moeller

Steffen Möller’s second genial book about Poland and Germany takes the train ride from Berlin to Warsaw as his frame to share more anecdotes from a life lived in both countries. Möller’s engagement with Poland began more or less on a lark, when he signed up for a language seminar in Krakow in the mid-1990s. …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/02/24/expedition-zu-den-polen-by-steffen-moeller/

Feb 08 2019

A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka by Lev Golinkin

How did A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka turn out to be such an impossibly good book? I picked it up more or less on a whim during a visit to Texas — ok, memoir of leaving the Soviet Union as a kid and growing up in the States, could be interesting — and …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2019/02/08/a-backpack-a-bear-and-eight-crates-of-vodka-by-lev-golinkin/

Dec 17 2018

The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine

The first half of The House of Government located the Bolshevik party within a specifically Russian tradition of millennarianism. Revolutionary socialism would redeem the world, starting with Russia, and usher in a new era, a time of plenty, a time of the perfectibility of humanity. The second half of the book details what life is …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/12/17/the-house-of-government-by-yuri-slezkine-2/

Dec 11 2018

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman (The Extraordinary Adventures of the Athena Club #2) by Theodora Goss

At 702 pages — nearly twice the length of its predecessor in the series — European Travel For The Monstrous Gentlewoman is an unfortunately ungainly novel. Whereas The Strange Case Of The Alchemist’s Daughter was a sprightly reimagining of classic monstrous tales especially as they pertained to the much abused daughters of horrible men, ETftMG …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/12/11/european-travel-for-the-monstrous-gentlewoman-the-extraordinary-adventures-of-the-athena-club-2-by-theodora-goss/

Oct 21 2018

Soviet Mass Festivals, 1917-1991 by Malte Rolf

Every now and then, I like to read a book that is of interest mainly to specialists. Malte Rolf’s work uses the parades and other mass events in the Soviet Union as a lens for examining how that society developed over the course of its existence. Celebrations reveal a great deal about a society — what …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/10/21/soviet-mass-festivals-1917-1991-by-malte-rolf/

Oct 15 2018

The City & The City by China Miéville

Don’t read the second sentence of this post. Don’t read the sentence that comes before this one. In this world, we do not acknowledge italics. Italics are the only text there is. If you see something written in another way, avert your eyes, unsee and unread before it is too late. We have some leniency …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/10/15/the-city-the-city-by-china-mieville/

Sep 08 2018

Soviet Bus Stops, Volume II by Christopher Herwig

“‘This is bullshit,’ I mumbled, through tears of exhaustion and frustration. The chances of the 4×4 climbing the snowy Goderdzi Pass were as slim as the likelihood that the bus stop at the summit was the prize I so desperately sought. Why was I still doing this after fifteen years, why couldn’t I stop?” (p. …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/09/08/soviet-bus-stops-volume-ii-by-christopher-herwig/

Jul 25 2018

An Interview With Nick Setchfield, author of The War In The Dark

Q: I was dead impressed by your idea to fuse the Cold War spy and occult horror genres, a concept I had yet to come across before reading your book. How did The War In The Dark evolve? A: As I discovered I’m actually following in the footsteps of a few people – Tim Powers, …

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.thefrumiousconsortium.net/2018/07/25/an-interview-with-nick-setchfield-author-of-the-war-in-the-dark/