Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby

I had high hopes for this short story collection. For one, I couldn’t resist its title: There Once was a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales. I also have an affinity for Eastern European literature.

Sadly, the first few stories left me disappointed. Although the author is Russian and the stories take place in Russia, I felt like I'd heard many of them before. In fact, some read like a rehash of scary stories I heard at sleepovers as a child. I also felt no spark in the writing—which, granted, might have been a problem with the translation.

The more I read, though, the more interesting the narratives became. I got into Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's rhythm and found the stories fascinating although traditional. I wouldn’t describe the book as scary, but it definitely leans towards the macabre.

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