Having not quite got the whole ‘Let’s do parodies of other online reviewers’ thing out of my system with my cunningly crafted tribute to Angela Meyer, it’s time for another one. Also, although there have been numerous and thunderous knockings at my door late at night, none of them have been a prelude to my being surrounded by balaclava-clad heavies wielding truncheons and growling ‘Mz Meyer is very, very unhappy… And when Mz Meyer gets very unhappy, WE get very, very, very angry.’ So take a bow, today’s victim: Estelle Tang. With luck, Estelle doesn’t have the budget or inclination to hire a goon-squad either.
DENSELY RESEARCHED HISTORICAL NOVEL ALERT etc.
Thoughts before reading: the cover has promotional shots from the film on it. The snob in me is not impressed. It’s a book, people. If I wanted screen-shots on a cover, I’d wait for the DVD. Still, behold the gold y’all – and tell me that isn’t the most attractive martini you’ve ever seen.
(‘Capital letters blow’ 2007-style breakdown)
leo tolstoy pretty much needs no introduction: but just in case you think he does, he wrote anna karenin and war and peace. and lots of other things. jay parini’s the last station is the story of the last year of leo’s life, in which he tried ever so hard to be more saint than man – he relinquished the copyrights to his biggest sellers, spurned the material world and wound up croaking in a peasant’s hut. sad.
(‘Playful and occasionally sesquipedalian’ 2010-style breakdown)
A figure as revered as Tolstoy was always going to generate a following of earnest disciples – and when he got religion in no uncertain terms the following really took off. Parini manages to carve out some space for readers to see both the man and the men and women who saw him as a messiah (did you follow that?).
Parini’s multiple narrative voices are apt to be discombobulating at first, but stick with the first few chapters and his intentions become pellucid. Obviously he wants you to see things from different perspectives. We get the wife’s, the secretary’s, the daughter’s and a good dose of epistles, too.
Any publishing ferret worth their acquisitive little paws would kill to have been a secretary for someone like Tolstoy at the last: I’ve written up a contract that officially puts me in line to be Tom Cho’s secretary when he’s on his last legs, but let’s face it, hot as Tom is, he’s no Tolstoy. Also, he seems quite healthy at the moment and I’m having trouble forging his signature.
Gemini: a dense historical novels holds more fascination than you thought it would. But the Gore Vidal quote on the front cover ‘One of the best historical novels to be published in the last twenty years’ seems a little bit suspect because Parini is Vidal’s literary executor.
Russian patronymics and diminutives never stop being slightly funny, even if you’re half Russian.
Beware of addiction to parodies. They pose health risks and inevitably distract you from writing your own stuff.
Misha is reasonably confident that, having got away with this sort of thing last time, he won’t be hooded, tied up and driven to a remote location in the boot of a car to experience the receiving end of practical deconstruction techniques. However, should Angela Meyer and Estelle Tang provide each other with alibis in the event of his disappearance, he expects readers to do the right thing.
Snigger, and note that he had it coming to him.