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The Vital Needs Of The Dead By Igor…

The Vital Needs Of The Dead By Igor Sakhnovsky (original 1999; edition 2012)

by Igor Sakhnovsky

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2011515,329 (2.38)2
Title:The Vital Needs Of The Dead By Igor Sakhnovsky
Authors:Igor Sakhnovsky
Info:Glagoslav Publications Ltd. (2012), Paperback, 164 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, russian literature, russia, post-soviet, read in 2012

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The Vital Needs of the Dead by Igor Sakhnovsky (1999)



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The Vital Needs of the Dead is a coming-of-age novel, probably autobiographical, set during the final years of the USSR and Russia's subsequent transition to capitalism and gangsterism.[return][return]Gosha Sidelnikov lives in a city in the Urals, mostly with his grandmother Rosa who is the guiding force in his life. After her death, as Sidelnikov finishes school and goes away to college to study literature, Rosa remains a voice in his head and in his dreams, attempting to guide him out of harm's way. She is only partly successful, as Sidelnikov gets involved in a prolonged love affair with an older woman, several quickie romances, and spends a wild and tempting night with a group of black marketeers. [return][return]The dingy atmosphere of decay, apathy and corruption as the Soviet Union nears its collapse is memorably depicted, and is this short novel's chief attraction. Sidelnikov himself isn't particularly appealing or interesting, and our introduction to Rosa, the grandmother, before her demise is too cursory to explain why her memory has such mystical importance for her grandson. Rosa's appearances in Sidelnikov's dreams border on magical realism (the only non-Russian author mentioned, albeit misspelled, is Gabriel Garca Márquez), but are out of place in an otherwise bleak, existential story.[return][return]Perhaps the point of the novel is to ask what it is that guides our actions and shapes our decisions: chance, fate, or the "needs" of the dead--those "needs" being the sense of place, propriety and purpose that we derive from our upbringing. But this novel is too short, fragmented and uneven to carry such a weighty theme with any success. (An unpolished translation may be to blame for some of this.) For the most part it is just vignettes of drinking, sex and adolescent angst in various dirty and dilapidated tenements. It is the settings themselves which make The Vital Needs of the Dead worth reading for someone interested in a realistic picture of life in a typical Soviet city during the 1980s. ( )
  Dolmance | Oct 29, 2015 |
My first thought with Vital Needs of the dead when I started reading it was that not everyone is going to understand this book. As I continued reading I continued to feel that way. For those born in a privileged western world that have not had to deal with the experiences of something like Soviet run Russia they cannot always identify with what is going on.

Now I am one of those who was born in the Western world but I have done a lot of reading of this era and like to think I can connect with what is being told. Igor Sakhnovsky writes a very detailed story that is full of images that seemed to speak of me. Gosha is a character that I could really connect with and so I was interested in his story and what was happening to him throughout.

Some of the translation could be a little bit rough but for me that did not really take away from the book. A lot of times I think you have to read a book in its mother tongue to get all of the subtle nuances of what is being told. I would recommend this book to someone who is willing to take the time to understand what the story is telling you.
( )
  LadyAmbrosia | Apr 18, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I tried, repeatedly, over a number of months, but this book is like reading thru gauze. I don't know if the story is worthwhile, because I could not get to the story. I have given up on it, and cannot recommend it as anything but kindling.
  EverettWiggins | Mar 21, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The Vital Needs of the Dead had some interesting things going on but it wasn’t exactly a riveting read. Even though it’s not very long, I couldn’t help but think it would have been better if it was shorter.

The language is really weird and I’m not sure whether the author or the translator is to blame.
  amanda4242 | Feb 24, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book was interesting. It's written in a realistic style, and follows the coming-of-age story of Gosha Sidelnikov. Gosha, as we find out after a few chapters, is developmentally slow, so we see the world through his particularly naïve eyes. He is closer to his grandmother Rosa than to his mother, and after Rosa's death, she continues to visit him in his dreams, providing him with guidance as he grows into the world.

The story is interesting, but just that. I did not find it compelling. 2 stars. ( )
  SirRoger | Feb 10, 2013 |
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