<= 2003.01.26

2003.01.28 =>

melancholy green cells

The word currently most applicable to the book is exacting. If the leftists in the Spanish Civil War could use expressionism as a weapon, then surely your own creation can take you to task and beat your head against the wall.

Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita. This is an odd bird: not quite fable, not quite satire, not quite parable. It flits between the tale of Satan and his minions (a gangly choirmaster, a great talking tomcat) descending on contemporary Moscow, a Goethean love story about a tortured novelist, and the novelist's book-within-the-book, a sort of revisionist Gospel where Pontius Pilate takes center stage. The scenes ooze with mordant humor, especially in the beginning, and the set pieces involving black magic are as exhilarating as they are menacing. What the book can't quite deliver, for all its pyrotechnics, is conventional narrative drive. The first half manages to get by on mystery alone, but once it becomes clear how carefully the devil is orchestrating every event, much of the tension dissipates. It's hard to blame Bulgakov for going overlong with the scenes of hell-minions fucking with Soviet functionaries—no doubt he had a lifetime of bitterness to expel—but while the book's thematic architecture will surely provide enough material for a warehouse of dissertations, the story can't avoid a slide into flatness.

 

<= 2003.01.26

2003.01.28 =>

up (2003.01)

The Warm South
The Roof Rat Review