There Once Lived a Woman, By Ludmilla Petrushevskaya
Sunday 02 January 2011
"There once lived a woman who was killed, then brought back to life." "There once lived a woman who was so fat, she couldn't fit in a taxi." Such weird, button-holing beginnings are typical of this collection of strange fables.
Divided into four sections – "Songs of the Eastern Savs", "Allegories", "Fairy Stories" and "Requiems" – they are full of sudden deaths and resurrections, bitter hardships and magical transformations. A family hides out in the woods, living on mushrooms, dandelions and goat's milk; it's not clear what they are hiding from, but soon it will come for them. Two ballet dancers are fused together in one body by a wizard. A woman is given a lift by a lorry driver who never stops grinning, and his companion, a skeleton in an overcoat. Characters forget their names, walk into unknown houses with food waiting for them, hear footsteps in empty flats.
An entrancing collection of tales, as humane and unsentimental as Chekhov, as grim and funny as Beckett, as dark and unsettling as Poe.
filmFilm producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
voicesJust when you thought you could find a man, get married, and have a baby by the age of 35... it turns out you’re too late, says Grace Dent
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
musicThe 21-year-old beat Ella Eyre and Chlöe Howl to win the honour
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
Arts & Ents blogs
The desolation of the Weinstein brothers: Film producers sue Warner Bros for $75m over Hobbit films
Christmas songs: the best and the worst
Your Money, Money, Money please - Abba ask fans for £195 pledges on direct-to-fan website
Not all right on the night
Lost Peter Sellers films Dearth of a Salesman and Insomnia Is Good for You hailed as the movie equivalent of 'finding Dead Sea Scrolls'
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute in Soweto
- 2 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 3 Australia: Gay marriage law reversed by high court less than a week after first weddings
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- < Previous
- Next >