14 May 2009

Book Review: Pu-239 by Ken Kalfus

I suppose I have finally embraced the genre of the short story collection. In fact, I continually borrow books of this genre. Here is one other example of a short story collection that I read recently, and again, I am not so satisfied.

Pu-239 is a collection of short stories written by Ken Kalfus. The main arching theme of this collection is Russia. Even the fable Salt is centered around Russia, albeit a fantastic one. I got interested in this collection because I saw a movie preview of Pu-239 once, apparently, it is a movie, and it is about a Russian worker in a nuclear plant, and he is selling a container of plutonium before he dies.

Anyway, I suppose the main complaint I have with respect to this collection is that the stories lack some oomph. They do not deliver. The stories are flat, like the Russian taiga. The stories do not have suspense, they do not have thrill, and the turning of the page distilled into boredom for me, and it was the drive to finish the book and return it back to the library, not the drive to find out what was happening, which motivated me to continue on reading.

One of the stories was a fable, where it was about a country that had no salt, and then a certain character went ahead and delivered Russian salt to this country, and then the whole country got a good flavor to their dishes. I think that was precisely what this collection was lacking. It perhaps needed more salt, it needed more flavor, because otherwise, I would ask myself why I am reading about the life of a writer owning a dacha outside Moscow, if all that I read about is his mundane quotidian life story.

In short, I was not impressed.

See my other book reviews here.

(Self Portrait of Van Gogh, from my National Gallery of Art Series)

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