Read There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya Anna Summers Online


Love stories, with a twist: the eagerly awaited follow-up to the great Russian writer's New York Times bestselling scary fairy tales.By turns sly and sweet, burlesque and heartbreaking, these realist fables of women looking for love are the stories that Ludmilla Petrushevskaya—who has been compared to Chekhov, Tolstoy, Beckett, Poe, Angela Carter, and even Stephen King—isLove stories, with a twist: the eagerly awaited follow-up to the great Russian writer's New York Times bestselling scary fairy tales.By turns sly and sweet, burlesque and heartbreaking, these realist fables of women looking for love are the stories that Ludmilla Petrushevskaya—who has been compared to Chekhov, Tolstoy, Beckett, Poe, Angela Carter, and even Stephen King—is best known for in Russia. Here are attempts at human connection, both depraved and sublime, by people in all stages of life: one-night stands in communal apartments, poignantly awkward couplings, office trysts, schoolgirl crushes, elopements, tentative courtships, and rampant infidelity, shot through with lurid violence, romantic illusion, and surprising tenderness....

Title : There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780143121527
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 171 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories Reviews

  • Antigone
    2019-05-15 05:48

    You know these women. You must.A mother, an aunt, a family friend. A group of hens who go to lunch, play bridge, take tea. Women who dish, who gossip, who have news; a funny story, a juicy tidbit, a rumor, a suspicion, an aside. Women who come to chairs, finally, after a long day's labor; who collapse with a huff and take a minute as the bones re-settle and the mind clears; whose first steady breath spikes a tale, a twist of insight, a seasoning of observation. These graying biddies who chat, and whom the brash so frequently dismiss - those youthful hedonists, convinced as they are that activity's value lies solely in the physical; that an active intellect at such an advanced stage can produce nothing of relevance. Those who choose, as a matter of course, the gym, the sport, the concert, the party, the movie, the text, the game, over the tittle-tattle of the aged. And more the fools they.I used to sit at her feet in rapture. My grandmother told an excellent tale.And this is, of course, the genesis of the fairy story, the fable, the proverb, the adage; the very seed of the ubiquitous cliché. It's the ancient "teaching moment." The time and place the most critical of all wisdoms are conveyed. Rich with emotional affirmation and heartfelt warning; here is where she's going to tell you how best not to make your mistakes. Here is where she will inform you, gently, how hard life truly is. Here is where she will show you, with this little bit of scandal about a man she once knew, what lovers to avoid.And this is a resource Ludmilla Petrushevskaya well understands."Russia is a land of women Homers, women who tell stories orally. Just like that, without inventing anything. They're extraordinarily talented storytellers. I'm just a listener among them."Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is considered one of the most prominent contemporary writers in Russia. She's won the Pushkin Prize, the Russian State Prize, the Stanislavsky Award and the Triumph Prize, among other honors in her long career. Novelist, playwright, artist - she took up singing and songwriting in her mid-sixties. She's a whirling dervish of a talent, and in this small collection of seventeen tales she bends her focus to the eminently pragmatic truths of her favorite female philosophers.Until Clarissa turned seventeen not a single soul admired or noticed her - in that respect she was not unlike Cinderella or the Ugly Duckling. At an age when most girls are sensitive to beauty and look for it everywhere, Clarissa was a primitive, absent-minded creature who stared openmouthed at trivial things, like the teacher wiping off the blackboard, and God knows what thoughts ran through her head. In her last year at school she was involved in a fight. It was provoked by an insult Clarissa believed had been directed at her. In fact, the word wasn't directed at Clarissa or anyone in particular (very few words had been said about her), but instead of explaining this, the boy simply slapped her back. During that time Clarissa imagined herself as a young heroine alone in a hostile world. Apparently she believed that every situation had something to do with her, although very few did...Here is the voice of the Soviet sage, addressing all our foibles and frailties, drawing us further into the realities of life - with actions only rarely pretty and people only rarely fine, but a journey to be respected nonetheless.

  • karen
    2019-05-14 01:44

    seriously, penguin?? you deny me the netgalley??DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM???did you think i was jason?? because i am not!! this is a great injustice!!!!

  • Ammar
    2019-05-19 05:00

    This collection of love stories and broken hearts against various Russian and soviet backdrops is realistic ... full of tears and love along a prism of emotions that the author shoots up our arms

  • Rossy
    2019-04-27 06:46

    DNF at 75%.The title sounded so promising, but the stories were tedious, most of them, uninteresting, and the endings felt rushed or incomplete even for short stories.

  • Ashley Olson
    2019-04-28 01:53

    All of the stories go like this, in the same fashion as the title:"It went like this:There one was a girl who seduced her sister's husband, and he hanged himself.""It went like this: There was an adult woman who lived with her grandmother and then her lover came over after work and they had sex on the couch with her grandmother in the same room, then the grandmother died and then the woman became pregnant.""It went like this: There was a fat old woman who was fat because she was poor and she hated her husband so she chased him down the street and told everyone that her daughter was pregnant with her husband's child."This happened, and then this happened, and then this happened. And it does-- it tells you exactly what happened, all the time. It's frank, but too frank, as it falls into the classic "show, don't tell," category.I really tried on this one. I was drawn to the promise of pessimism, strong Russian women, the poverty, the close quarters.The title alone begged the book to be read, and I'd looked forward to it since I read the review in the Times. But the Times told the story much better than all of the short stories themselves. I was looking forward to being disturbed and uncomfortable, but the disjointed narrative (though I realize this was translated from Russian, which is why I tried so hard so like it even though I initially did not) and disjointed events inside each short story left me feeling unsatisfied.

  • Kathleen
    2019-04-21 05:14

    Reading Petrushevskaya is like being cornered by a really charismatic stranger and being told about lives you'd really rather not hear about. And perhaps those are the best stories, where you have to listen, mesmerised and a bit appalled. It leaves a lingering discomfort because that story was told to you and you're not quite sure why. It has to mean something. I loved Petrushevskaya's collection There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby so launched into these as soon as I heard about them. They have the same urgency of style. Stories are told fast; shocking things happen in staccato succession. But the book is not like the first collection, which was mostly made up of ghost stories or lives touched by the supernatural. These are tales of grim grim reality in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. I felt just a little bit more detached from them for this reason, because on one level they document a world which is totally foreign to me (many many thanks to whoever is to be thanked for that), whereas a ghost story always feels universal. But Petrushevskaya's narrative flair - straight, fast and shocking - carried them through this distance. I'm still asking myself, what do they all mean, and probably will be for a while.

  • J.A.
    2019-04-20 02:03

    I've read my share of Russian literature, but nothing quite like the stories of Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. She writes of the harsh everyday existence melded with just enough absurdity to make it palatable. These are stories of neglected young girls, wives, mothers, and widows looking for love in humble and inhospitable circumstances. The love they uncover is not redemptive, but it is enough to sustain them. They are making the best of a bad situation, but this isn't an instance of taking lemons and making lemonade. This is trying to make Dandelion Root Tea from the Russian Dandelion, which is better suited for the production of rubber.

  • Mel
    2019-04-21 05:59

    I know I hate short stories so why do I still try to read them? This wasn't for me at all.

  • B.R. Sanders
    2019-05-08 04:14

    NOTES ON DIVERSITY:Petrushevskaya's stories are not diverse on the surface. It's not explicit, but I read most of the characters as white. The stories--love stories, the cover claims--appeared to be hetero in nature.The bulk of these love stories are focused on women, and what is remarkable about these stories is the great breadth of Russian femininity* that Petrushevskaya tracks through her stories. The stories are pulled from the full spread of her writing career, and across them we have old heroines and very young heroines and heroines settling into middle age. We have hopeful and dour heroines. Beautiful, but mostly homely heroines. Bright and slow heroines. Heroines of virtually every description.And, also specific to Russia, we have heroines that live in Soviet Russia and heroines that live in a Russia which has once again begun to flirt with capitalism. We see, through Petrushevskaya's eyes, the great and remarkable changes that Russian society went through while she lived, and how great (or small) an impact those changes made on the daily lives of its citizens.REVIEW:Petrushevskaya has a light hand with narration and a uncanny, unflinching eye for vicious detail. These are love stories, but they are horror stories, too. These are stories, almost uniformly, about how completely random and obliterating and destructive love can be. She is a sly, deadpan writer, and the stories are like those told by your aunt who's seen too much and who is always slightly drunk at holiday dinners, but who is charismatic and fascinating anyway.The only real fault I have with the collection is repetition. Sixteen stories is a lot to read in one go, especially when the themes are so consistent and similar. I wish the collection had been shorter, that the ten best and brightest had been chosen. But, then again, every anthology is a bit of a shot in the dark, yes? My top ten are probably not your top ten.Speaking of, stand-outs (for me, anyway) were "Two Deities", "Tamara's Baby", "A Happy Ending," and especially "Milgrom"._____*I would not venture to say that she is somehow speaking to all of womanhood or across all women's experience. That is certainly not true. But she does seem to speak to a great swath of Russian women's experience (I would think--I am not Russian).

  • Daisy
    2019-04-22 23:56

    I was reading this today while I gave blood. The nurse asked me what it was and I showed her the title. She asked if they were true stories. At first I said no. And then I changed my mind.This time I did read the introduction before the book, then I read it again afterwards. Anna Summers puts it well:The changes [Petrushevskaya] introduces in vocabulary, perspective, rhythm, and intonation sneak up on us, and before we know it we have implicitly forgiven bizarre, bewildering, and often vulgar behaviors and qualities......For in her love stories, the revolution, having begun with the promise of communal apartments, degenerated and died in those same apartments...... delight in her humor, her irony, her steadfast refusal to save her characters, or her readers, from themselves. --all from the introductionSo these "love" stories are a little more accessible (to me) than the fairy tales of her previous collection, There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby. My favorites were "Milgrom," "Young Berries," and "A Happy Ending." The volume contains stories from 1972 to 2008 when Petrushevskaya turned 70. Also thank you to goodreads member J. A. Clemens who noticed this on my to-read list and directed me to his blog where he hosted a giveaway which I won.

  • Sistermagpie
    2019-04-24 03:05

    It's so hard to describe a story by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya--I'd read one of her books before so I knew what to expect. I just love her. She writes about lives that one might call depressing, but there's just...something there. She just has, for me, this very clear pov that I'm not sure I understand, but I like. It's a bit like listening to an imaginative child tell a story where they say bizarre things but they clearly have poetic meaning? This is not to say the stories are childish or childlike--it's just that they hide a like of complex things in their straightforward simplicity.In fact, not only does she manage to hint at great tragedy and great comedy in simple sentences, but the lumbering behemoth that is/was the bureaucracy of Soviet and post-Soviet society.

  • Matt
    2019-04-20 23:46

    I feel a little bit like I might be underrating this book, since I liked it, but feel it's not as strong a collection as her "Scary Fairy Tales" book, which was devastatingly good. The idea of this collection is that these are love stories, though the introduction tries a different, and perhaps more accurate track, that these are really stories about motherhood, and the love that seems to get things done here is mother love.The first stories felt underdeveloped to me, sketches that needed the details, even those of daily life, filled in more robustly. But the later stories get better at that, and the stories get more twisty, more recognizable at the same time they get more sordid, which is a perversely thrilling feeling.There's a really solid exploration here of the power of real estate, of living spaces, and how it obsesses the imagination of the characters here that remains pretty compelling. I'd call that very Russian, but what do I know. Maybe in NYC, in Boston or the Bay Area, people feel the same. I doubt it, but what do I know.Here's my last scattered thought: Petrushevskaya's sentences are in this super stripped down, matter of fact key. I think that suited the fairy tales really well, since it dovetailed with a particular approach to magical realism. I don't think it works as well here-- there's really no room for fantasy, which is so much of what love is about, that the impression one got was that these lovers were fools, doomed and not very bright. Stil, good stuff-- I'd start at the second half and then go back and read the early stories later.

  • Mary
    2019-04-26 23:49

    The title of this book begs reading, and having initially skipped the intro by the translator, I charged through the first few "love stories" with no sense of what to expect. These "love stories" are certainly not about love, not the dreamy American version anyway, and they're not really stories, either. More like dismal little anecdotes about impoverished Russians who will never escape their hopeless circumstances. It could be a cultural disconnect, but I didn't find any "delight in her humor." Rather, I found the stories unrelentingly depressing. The author writes a very honest, unapologetic view of Russian culture, which was an eye-opener, but without a spark of joy or beauty in that stark prose.

  • Chris
    2019-05-04 04:01

    I have to admit that I enjoyed the previous collection far more than this one. There is less magic realism in these stories, and a sense of wonder or charm seems to be missing. There are some very good ones such as “Milogram,” “Like Penelope,” “The Goddess Parka,” and “Father and Mother”. The last is rather good. The theme is relationships, in particular a weird type of battle of the sexes that also involves the government that tries to go after everyone. Perhaps this is a Russian theme; however, with the above exceptions many of the stories seem to be too repetitive. Three stars on the strength of the good stories.

  • Tejas Janet
    2019-05-03 23:51

    3.5 stars - The stories here are uneven with some overly short and sketchy, others longer and more fully developed, but they all share a common element of stark, pragmatic realism that deftly finds and exposes the fault lines inherent in real-life experiences of love and splits the fantasy wide open to reveal the inner vulnerability, neuroses, tenderness, bitterness, ugliness, and at times beauty. That the author accomplishes this with such economy of words is remarkable.

  • lisa_emily
    2019-04-26 07:59

    Thank god I was able to finish.

  • Airiz C
    2019-05-09 05:09

    Short stories possess a kind of magic that novels sometimes do not have. The worlds in them seem smaller because of their length, but I came to realize that this is nothing but a hypercritical verdict: the worlds in them are in truth so much bigger, as there is a plethora of possibilities hanging at the ledge of every tale’s abrupt end. The readers often get to be the mind-pilots when they reach the said ledge, imagining what would happen past the borders. These tales are like tiny pieces of a universe pulled apart and made to stand alone. The very good ones are strong enough to make a reader believe they do not need to be a part of something bigger in order to do what volumes of others could, from something as small as scraping the reader’s heart to something as large as totally changing someone’s life. Imagine what an anthology of these kinds of stories would be like!But let us keep in mind that a tale’s power is directly tied to its effect to the audience. In the end, it is still a matter of preference and taste—what can reduce you to tears may only be able to make me arch an eyebrow; what can make me laugh like there is no tomorrow may only make you shrug.Considering this, I believe that Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s ’s anthology There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories may be regarded as a powerful collection, but one whose clout does not quite hit my heart’s bull’s eye nor grabbed at my interest for long. (The title did arrest my curiosity, I'll admit, but it was its contents that I have a few concerns with.)Don’t get me wrong: the stories have a lot to offer. They bring forth a blend of bittersweetness, hope, desperation, grit, heartbreak. They flash facets of histories of women who sought, found, and lost love in a variety of places and situations: seedy apartments that witnessed infidelities, hasty and messy one-night stands, hesitant romances in corporate bubbles, trysts crutched by temporary bliss, and label-less relationships. They feature an assortment of women, too—there are strong ones, "weak" ones , and those lodged in between. But even though there is a lengthy list of rave reviews for this anthology and the one that preceded it (There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Scary Fairy Tales), I cannot seem to find a concrete element in it that will make me cherish it as something that is utterly remarkable.I think my main concern with the whole thing is that even though the stories are meant to be stand-alones, the characters (and in effect, the situations they are in) seem to bleed into each other. And I am not talking in a seamless, spin-off-like Venn Diagram way either. It was as if there is a handful of templates for characters that get recycled for the individual tales, as though there is a lone element that make them identical in voice and demeanor.The result, for me, is that there is no character that stood out. Well-written characters are vital for short stories because they often drive the whole tale with them. Like what I said in the beginning of this review, there might be a bigger universe outside a short story’s concrete margins when it reaches the end, but the space where characters could establish themselves as beings worthy of being remembered is very small. The process of character creation and/or development should happen here—it could not extend to those unseen margins.I liked how each story unfolded, though. The successions of every scene hold a flavor of honesty and simplicity; their undemanding messages could be conveyed to their audience effortlessly. Remembering these bits as something notable could be a lot easier if their anchors—the characters, of course—are as strongly knitted as they are.2.5 stars

  • Aj Sterkel
    2019-04-20 01:03

    This review is for the English translation of a Russian short story collection. The title and synopsis sound so promising! The book wasn’t for me, though.Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s characters are looking for love in desperate places. They live in extreme poverty or in overcrowded communal apartments. They work in dead-end jobs or are mentally unbalanced. Many of them have given up hope. Their love affairs are bizarre, unrequited, awkward, dangerous. Despite the flashes of humor, most of the stories in this collection don’t have endings you’d call “happy.”“‘Once, at the dacha, years ago,’” she said, “‘we all decided to go mushroom picking, and our neighbor Vera—she was at least eighty at the time—dashed over to the mirror and started painting her lips. My mother said to her, ‘Aunt Vera, we are going to the woods; who’s the lipstick for?’ And Vera replied—I’ll never forget it—‘Who knows? Maybe that’s where it will happen!’” - There Once Lived A Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, And He Hanged Himself: Love StoriesPetrushevskaya writes about people who are often overlooked in society. They’re not heroes. They’re average people who are just trying to survive in Soviet or post-Soviet Russia. I like seeing the impact that an oppressive government has on the characters’ lives. The government is rarely mentioned in the stories, but it’s always there, hovering over every choice the characters make. The stories have a bleak, heavy tone.The characters’ lifestyles interested me, but I never felt connected to any of them because there is a lot of distance between the reader and the characters. Most of the stories read like brief anecdotes or outlines rather than short stories. They’re sparsely written and repetitive. All of them are about love gone wrong (or slightly right). They all have the same depressing tone. The stories often ended before I had a chance to fully absorb what was happening. If you want to read this collection, be prepared to read between the lines. The writing just skims the surface. Most of the action is left off the page.I finished this book several days ago, and none of the stories stand out in my mind. This might be because Love Stories took me months to read. I never felt motivated to pick it up. The author’s writing style just didn’t grab me.Even though I didn’t get along with the writing, I want to read more of Petrushevskaya’s work. I know she has a book of novellas and a book of fairytales. I think I’d have an easier time connecting to her characters in a longer piece of writing. Also, her writing style might work better in a fairytale because a lot of fairytales are sparsely written and don’t have much explanation of the events that happen.Love Stories wasn’t for me, but I’m willing to try another book. “She keeps looking up, not meeting his eyes—the sign of a serious crush, by the way.” - There Once Lived A Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, And He Hanged Himself: Love Stories

  • The Lit Bitch
    2019-05-14 05:47

    4.5 stars.Petrushevskaya stripped off the rose colored glasses and showed us what love really is sometimes and yet underneath all the grit and darkness there is beauty to be appreciated in each story. Petrushevskaya has shown us that love can find us all even in the darkest of times. Love isn’t just something that happens in fairy tales or in Nicholas Sparks novels… is messy.I love books that go against the grain and challenge tradition and this book did just that. I loved that each of these stories were based on real life events….that took the collection to a whole other level for me. It made them more personal and relatable for me as a reader knowing that. Each story contained realistic tenderness mixed with romantic illusion.The only thing I wished for in this book was that it was longer. I loved that the stories were short and sweet but sometimes I thought they ended abruptly and I was left wanting to know more about the characters and what happened next. I also wanted to keep reading more!See my full review here

  • Giulia
    2019-05-01 03:51

    I really liked this collection of short stories but Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. I bumped into this book accidentally and, like most, was attracted to what the peculiar title promised. Unfortunately it doesn't quite deliver on that, as the title story is actually one of the shortest and the circumstances on how the girl seduces her sister's husband and then he hangs himself are not developed much. Nevertheless, the stories are well narrated and I enjoyed reading these bittersweet tales of lives in Soviet/Post Soviet Russia. These stories depict the condition of women from low-class/poverty backgrounds, their everyday struggles, their hopes, their passion and their love. There's raw brutality in the way the author writes about their relationships, both with their men and the rest of their families. There's cruelty and humiliation, but also comfort and longing. Some of the stories don't seem to have a proper ending (or a "normal" structure for that matter), but this only adds to the allure of these stories and to how real they feel.

  • Gisele Walko
    2019-05-11 05:14

    Very good!

  • chintan bhuva
    2019-05-10 00:52

    What did I just read?

  • David
    2019-04-20 00:12

    A lovely collection of dark-edged love stories- very few of which are happy.

  • Julia
    2019-04-26 07:44

    Not gonna lie, I only bought this because of the title. I should have learned by now that I find Russian stories mostly tedious and boring but I was still hoping that this would be different. Sadly, it isn't. The themes of the stories often repeat themselves, I have honestly no idea why any of the characters acted the way they acted and the writing style wasn't that great.

  • Sookie
    2019-05-05 01:55

    Because its repetitive, obnoxiously depressing and the story endings aren't satisfactory.

  • Tim Lewis
    2019-05-01 07:04

    Premise: Even in the midst of Communist Russia, perhaps especially in such a place, people desire human connection. In this collection of dark short stories, each person lives a life in close quarters with others, yet still can’t seem to manage healthy close relationships. Women reach out to married men for romance, men cheat on their wives looking for excitement, children desire affection, and all under the haze of alcohol to block out the pain they wallow in.We bump against people every day. We make decisions that lead to unforeseen consequences. Those consequences are passed on through generations for more decisions to be made, and so on. This is the human condition. Underneath it all is a need for everyone to have love.Themes: These short stories are proclaimed to be love stories, and that they are. But they are more. Each short story tells the tale of a person’s search for love, but also their desire to be loved and accepted, not always requited by others, but always searching.On a general scope, the stories of There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself show us what life is like under an oppressive communist regime and the misery it can bring to the people. In their group apartments, basic needs are hard to come by as they share lives never quite having enough to get by, yet still somehow surviving.Pros: More than anything, I felt a very human experience through these stories. They are far from flashy or even very exciting, but on the grand scale the views of these very ordinary people’s lives seem to create a spectrum of emotions both in the characters and in the reader. Whether it is pity, sympathy, sorrow, or hatred, you will feel something from reading these so-called love stories. You may not be able to relate directly to the characters in their circumstances, but there will be some sense in which you can relate to what they are feeling in spite of their circumstances.Cons: Some of the things in There Once Lived a Girl can be difficult to relate to because of culture gap from not living in a communist country. Most of the amoral decisions made by characters, including promiscuity, women chasing after married men, men beating and cheating on their wives, and an overall drunkenness in the culture seemed to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. This was probably the most difficult thing to see past while reading this collection, not to mention it is fairly depressing.Recommendations: There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself brings to light the lives of everyday people living in misery under the oppressive Soviet Union. The stories illuminate our interconnectedness and what it really means to be human. We each have, on some level, a desire for love, acceptance, and self-worth that can only be fostered through relationships with other people. Through these characters, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya makes us see other people with more sensitive eyes and with the realization that each of us has our own story to tell. Give this collection of dark short love stories a chance and you might just find yourself appreciating the loved ones you have even more.

  • Heather
    2019-04-22 06:53

    Once in awhile you see a title that jumps at you and practically forces you to read the book it graces. I went in search of the amazingly titled Petrushevskaya collection There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby and came away instead with There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself. Try to read that title and not fill with curiosity. I dare you.Petrushevskaya is a Russian writer who was suppressed by the Soviets, and while she seems to finally be getting a lot of attention in her native language, her work is just beginning to be translated into English. I read this slim volume of seventeen stories in one sitting, and I definitely want more."Like Penelope" charmingly describes how a loveless woman finds love at first sight with a man she's always hated by reputation. "The Goddess Parka" features lovers coming together despite themselves over the death of a determined matchmaker. "Hallelujah, Family!," the centerpiece of the collection and the story the title is adapted from, is so good that I read it, finished the rest of the book, then turned around to read it again. It's so simple in it's conceit and execution, yet so dense and full of meaning, that it completely blew me out of the water. While not every story was a winner, there were plenty of little gems scattered throughout the collection.Like I'm sure many people in post-Soviet Russia must be, the characters in these stories are obsessed with living space. From cramped apartments to summer cottages and sanitariums, every story features characters stumbling over one another in a search for room. The way Petrushevskaya packs such tension and beauty into such small stories mirrors this never-ending quest for space.Translation is an art in itself, and I'm never sure what praise to give to the original author and what praise to the translator, but there are lines in these stories that took my breath away. Petrushevskaya's name may be hard to spell, her story collections titled with hard-to-remember mouthfuls, but I'm glad to have found her and can't wait to read more.

  • Cheryl
    2019-04-30 06:47

    I have to say that I do not have mush experience reading Russian books or authors. However I have read authors from other countries and I can tell a difference in the writing styles of these authors to U.S. authors. They are a little more vivid in their details, black humor can be borderline crude, and then there is the language. U.S. authors use more words to get their point across whereas other authors from other countries use less works and it can be like reading from a cue card. The reason I wanted to check this book out was because of the title. Plain and simple. I thought the title was interesting and I wanted to know how you could get love from a girl who seduced her sister’s husband and hanged herself. Well I learned all about it in Hallelujah, Family! These tales of love are not all about a happy ending. Some tales are kind of meant to shock you. Others may make you think the woman gets around a lot. In other stories the guy is a bastard. Like for example in A Murky Fate, a unmarried woman falls for a guy who commutes between his mother and his wife’s house. He is a womanizer. He talks about himself, gets himself some and then leaves the woman. The ending line goes like this “There was nothing but pain in store for her, yet she cried with happiness and couldn’t stop. “While, I found these stories short and out of the ordinary, after a while I had to stop because I also found them somewhat depressing and dreary. Also, some of the stories I liked but then they would stop suddenly. This book is a unusual collection of love stories.

  • Biblibio
    2019-04-22 04:48

    To say that this collection is weird would be such an understatement... From start to finish, Petrushevskaya (and clearly translator/editor Anna Summers along with her, what with that title and that subtitle - love stories, oh yeah...) is tweaking expectations and assumptions, going deep into melancholy and grimness and a general dank... blegh. That's what the collection feels like, honestly: a print version of a gray-tinged "bleurgh".That's not to say these aren't interesting and tickling stories. Grim as they may be, some themes emerge dominant: questions of loyalty, a mother's love for her child (or lack thereof), the general suckiness of life in Russia...Okay, that's really what this collection is about. Love is a thin film of unhappiness that covers each story.The writing is a bit brisk, at times detached. Petrushevskaya isn't really one for flowery prose and overly fluttery emotions, and it creates this rather blunt style that I kind of enjoyed. It's a fairly consistent style, unfortunately, so the book itself can become a bit tedious despite being relatively short. Ultimately, I thought there were a few good stories here and Petrushevskaya is an intriguing writer, but I can't see myself reading another full collection of her stories any time soon. This much bleakness pretty much did me in for now...

  • Billy O'Callaghan
    2019-04-28 02:45

    Not all of these stories work, and some do feel (as has already been mentioned in other review) undeveloped, like sketches that haven't been developed to their fullest potential. But the best of what's here are full of humour and pathos – and, in moments, even genuine heartbreak – and act as a searing commentary not only on the society depicted but also the universality of the outsider's desperation for a gesture of love, no matter how fleeting.Occasionally, the light does shine through, as in 'Give Her To Me', which tells the story of a talented but plain girl, Karpenko, finding unexpected companionship and succeeding as an actress against all odds; or virtually any of the closing four (terrific) stories, in the section catalogued as 'A Happy Ending'. But of course, even when things do end well they tend to have a delightful darkness about them.'There Once Lived a Girl Who...' is my first encounter with Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, and I'll definitely be seeking out more of her work. She is extremely perceptive when it comes to understanding the brittle nature of human interaction, and is a captivating talent, with a wonderfully offbeat imagination and a style that really challenges the 'show, don't tell' mantra of writing workshops the world over. The stories in this collection feel light in their reading, but they carry a deceptive, lingering weight.