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review The Bickford Fuse Ð eBook or Kindle ePUB ☆ [Download] ➾ The Bickford Fuse ➹ Andrey Kurkov – Catch 22 meets The Brothers Karamazov in the last great satire of the Soviet EraThe Great Patriotic War is stumbling to a close but a new darkness has fallen over Soviet Russia And for a disRs of Communism The Bickford Fuse is a satirical epic of the Soviet soul exploring the origins and dead ends of the Russian mentality from the end of World War Two to the Union's collapse Blending allegory and fable with real events and as deliriously absurd as anything Kurkov has written it is both an elegy for lost years and a song of hope for a future not yet set in sto. I was getting to a point where I was considering giving up on reading Kurkov's books but The Bickford Fuse has restored my faith in him although yes I know it's not strictly a new book Funny poignant and eminently engaging

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Catch meets The Brothers Karamazov in the last great satire of the Soviet EraThe Great Patriotic War is stumbling to a close The Bickford Kindle but a new darkness has fallen over Soviet Russia And for a disparate disconnected clutch of wanderers many thousands of miles apart but linked by a common goal four parallel journeys are just beginningGorych and his driver rolli. In his introduction to The Bickford Fuse which is translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk Andrey Kurkov remarks that there “are nations with great complex histories nations that have seen much blood and many tragedies nations that are so hopelessly bound by their histories that they cannot move forward into the future or even into a normal ‘present’” Of course the country that Kurkov has in mind here is Russia At the time of writing the introduction to the English language edition of the book he was speaking of the Russia of Vladimir Putin but at the time of writing the book he was thinking of the Russia of Boris Yeltsin and remotely the Russia of Nikita KhrushchevWhat do these different eras of “modern” Russian life have in common Well according to Kurkov they are all characterised by the apparent political desire to tear the country away from its Soviet past being blocked by “Soviet man” Kurkov holds that Khrushchev’s and Yeltsin’s attempts to modernise the nation were thwarted by this “Soviet man” who now appears to support the government of Vladimir Putin but only to the extent that Putin’s vision of the future of Russia ties with the desire to return the country to its mythical past “which the Russian people have learned to regard with a kind of religious pride” With The Bickford Fuse Kurkov sets out to explore the psychology of “Soviet man” who is neither good nor bad but simply SovietKurkov’s principal example of “Soviet man” is junior seaman Vasily Kharitonov who begins the novel shipwrecked on Russia’s eastern coast The Great Patriotic War is drawing to a close and Kharitonov is stuck sharing a beleaguered naval barge with his commanding officer and former friend Fedya Gritsak as well as tons of dynamite and miles of safety fuses It is not a living situation that Kharitonov finds easy nor does he truly understand Gritsak’s determination to continue following military regulations and protecting the barge’s deadly cargo“Kharitonov had spent all five years pondering one and the same thing He kept trying to explain to himself how and why Fedya Gritsak Fedya with whom he’d grown up with whom he’d gone fishing in their native lake Lacha had changed so much — as Kharitonov’s grandfather had once changed when he’d learned that God was the opium of the masses and that the winter church was a good set of bricks for building fishermen’s stoves”Despite initially appearing to have a rather rebellious and uestioning nature at least when compared to his staunchly Soviet companion when Kharitonov suddenly finds himself alone on the barge and without orders to follow he doesn’t take the logical step of running away as far and as fast as he possibly can Instead he primes the dynamite in the barge’s hold attaches a fuse to it ties the other end of the miles long fuse round his waist and sets out on a trek across Russia His vague intention is to make his way toward Leningrad and the sense of order offered by rules and regulations If he meets any comrades on his journey he will tell them of the barge’s cargo and allow them to follow the trailing fuse back to it; if he meets enemies he will blow up the dynamiteKharitonov’s odyssey is not the only epic journey described in the book since The Bickford Fuse also chronicles the exploits of several other examples of “Soviet man” who are determinedly plodding onward with their tasks despite having very little real sense of purpose There is the nameless driver and his passenger Gorych who are travelling through the night in a truck carrying a searchlight in the hope of spotting well something as war rages all around them The truck is as much a character as the two men which nicely echoes their automaton like pursuance of their goal“At half past two in the morning the city was roused from its light slumber The engine of a big black truck started in one of the tumbledown courtyards Then the truck turned on its lights and rode out into the street The city blinked lighting one of its windows and watched it go It knew that truck That truck wished it no harm”Kurkov’s novels always contain a healthy dose of the absurd and in The Bickford Fuse the examples of Kharitonov and the truck dwellers highlight his ability to break from reality in such a way that is oddly plausible and yet clearly demonstrates the absurdity of the situations his characters find themselves in Just as Kharitonov is able to walk thousands of miles across Russia unspooling a never ending fuse as he goes so the truck and its occupants spends the entire book rolling down a geographically impossible slope after having run out of petrolEually odd are the exploits of the other Soviet travellers who are trudging across the pages of The Bickford Fuse Also hoofing it across Russia are Andrey a young man who has spent his life living with his father and brothers in an abandoned monastery but who is forced to leave after the family finally successfully builds a wooden “humming” bell and Kortetsky a one legged propagandist who is touring the country and constructing miniature radios to spread the Soviet word to the masses Finally uncontrollably drifting across the sky above all the others is the sole occupant of a black airship a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to KhrushchevAll these journeys serve to highlight the vastness of Russia as well as the strength and longevity of the Soviet ideology The characters have to contend with collective trauma most poignantly exemplified by an orchard in which every tree represents a dead political prisoner and the almost total erosion of individualism and the ability to uestion “Soviet man” doesn’t seem able to break away from the patterns of the past but can he really be blamed for that There’s a lot of darkness to the story both literal as the truck travels for months perhaps even years without encountering daylight and metaphorical for example

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The Bickford FuseNg through water sand and snow on an empty petrol tank the occupant of a black airship looking down benevolently as he floats above his Fatherland young Andrey who leaves his religious community in search of a new life and Kharitonov who trudges from the Sea of Japan to Leningrad carrying a fuse that when lit could blow all and sundry to smithereensWritten in the final yea. I’m not sure I know entirely what happened in this book but I don’t think it matters I truly went on a journey while reading this one where I was constantly asking uestions only to have them never answered while reading It wasn’t until days or weeks had passed that I started finding my answers This book deserves to be read than once although I still think the answers will arrive days later The Bickford Fuse will clearly stay with me for the rest of my life Kurkov is both a genius and a poet