Author Topic: That One Obscure Book That Everybody Should Read  (Read 1886 times)


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That One Obscure Book That Everybody Should Read
« on: October 22, 2017, 08:11:55 PM »
The one that you bought simply because you liked the look of it, not because you knew anything about it, or had read rave reviews or word of mouth on it, but simply took a punt and discovered a bona fide unknown classic. Well, there are a few, but the one I had in mind to kick off this thread is 'Moscow Stations' by Venedict Yerofeev.

I'm pretty sure this was one of those I pulled out of a pallet back in my remainder bookshop days, it was published by Faber, and something about the picture on the cover - a train in the shape of a bottle of vodka - struck me as amusing, so I bought it. And read it in pretty much one sitting. It's a simple story of an alcoholic, recently fired from his job, who decides to take a train journey to Petushki to visit his family. On the journey, he basically rants on and on about whatever comes into his head at any given time, whilst getting more and more drunk, to the point that when he does get to Petushki, he's asleep and misses the station.

At the beginning of the book, he claims that despite having lived in Moscow all of his life, he has never seen the Kremlin. And it also contains one of my favourite lines, when, having fallen asleep again earlier in the journey, he notices that he has less vodka than before, and amiably but vaguely threateningly takes it up with the man sitting opposite him - 'Without moving a muscle, he started to make a run for it.'

Just to confuse matters, the book was originally titled 'Moscow-Petushki', but has also been translated as 'Moscow Circles' and 'Moscow To The End Of The Line'. There are further complications with Yerofeev's surname, which has also been variously anglicised as Erofeev or Erofeyev.

Anyway, I bought this book, and then raved about it to people, but there was one slight drawback - it had gone out of print. A few years later, when working for another remainder bookshop, I was on a buying trip to a warehouse in Amersham and came across a dozen copies, which I promptly took for my shop, and pushed onto whoever I could until they ran out. And that seemed to be it, until last year, when I noticed a new (Faber) edition on a table in the Waterstones in Deansgate in Manchester and realised it had been republished. So now I can recommend it again to anyone with the hope that they should be able to pick up a copy fairly easily!

Re: That One Obscure Book That Everybody Should Read
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2017, 08:15:53 PM »
I like the Amazon review of 'this'...

Be aware that this is not the novel Moscow Stations, but an adaptation of the novel for stage. This is not especially clear from the Amazon page (I bought it assuming it to be the novel) and is particularly confusing as Stephen Mulrine also authored a translation of the novel.

Please ignore the star rating as I have not read the book.

** The following was added on July 5 2016 **

For some reason Amazon has seen fit to transfer my review of the stage adaptation of Moscow Stations, to which my review above refers, to this new edition of the novel.

To clarify, there are two versions of Moscow Stations available, both confusingly in translation by Stephen Mulrine. One of these is a stage adaptation published by Oberon Books, one is the actual novel, (soon to be) published by Faber & Faber.

I have read the novel, and it is wonderful.

I did not read the copy of the stage adaptation that I mistakenly bought.

** The following was added on Mar 3 2017 **

As if in an attempt to turn this review into a farce, Amazon appears to have now decided to attach it to the correct book.

To summarise, in a manner applicable to wherever Amazon decides to move this review next, and to life in general, check carefully that what you're buying is what you think you're buying.


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Re: That One Obscure Book That Everybody Should Read
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2017, 08:17:47 PM »
The moral of the story is: Sack Amazon off and go to a bookshop where a large bearded man with a feverish glint in his eye will sell it to you.

Re: That One Obscure Book That Everybody Should Read
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 08:40:38 PM »
I have it. It was bought for me by an ex-girlfriend as she knew it was the kind of thing I like! And it is brilliant. I must read it again.