Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Holy Books of Guttersnipe Das: Tatyana Tolstaya

(Tatyana Tolstaya, portrait by Akemi Shinohara)

Tatyana Tolstaya
White Walls
New York Review of Books, 2007

If the literary style genie were to suddenly appear--he’s bare-chested, muscled and tattooed like the rest of the genies, but wears spectacles and travels amid a flock of white index cards--I would say to that genie, “I want to be a queer Tatyana Tolstaya.” She is the grand enchantress of the More Is More School, firing off one inspired rant after another. Her characters launch diatribes on why women should have fur tails, or teeth that receive radio signals. Plot matters less than the gleeful generous fireworks of language. Or the plot is the only plot that matters, namely, ‘I’m going to find some meaning and/or delight in this world’.

For more than a year now I’ve been attached to this book; every month I reread a few stories in hopes that they will prove contagious. Most of the stories in magazines seem so stilted and mannerly in comparison, like a respectable dinner party with white wine and filet of sole and the whole time you’re sitting there wishing it would finish already, so you could go out and carouse. Carouse and cavort is what Tolstaya’s stories do--they are parties with dancing and fireworks. The New York Review of Books Classics series has rescued a lot of important books (check out: Walser, Desani, Chaudhuri, Pintorelli, Krudy) but this is one of the very best. And read Tolstaya’s novel The Slynx too, but read this one first.

1 comment:

Best Lasagna Recipe said...

I always find my self in fantasies while reading Tolstaya's books.