Set in Russia, Petrushevskaya's stories are presented in a very basic, raw story telling fashion. They rarely are told in first person, one story which was told in first person skipped back and forth between "I" and "her". Some stories hold too much cultural relevance for me to truly understand, I felt lost at times. There was beauty in the words, some touched me with an icy finger down my spine. However, these moments were few and far between. Each story, even those in the section "A Happy Ending" were incredibly dark and depressing. The living situations are awful, in the introduction the translator, Anna Summers, expresses that these are realistic conditions. The characters are dreadful. The men cads. The women hopeless. Anna also says of Petrushevskaya's writing style, "her steadfast refusal to save her characters, or her readers, from themselves."
I would not suggest this for the general reader. If you have an interest in Russia, then yes, but, to be honest, I really don't know enough about the conditions of this country to understand what is accurate in this book.
I have very mixed feelings. It was painful to read... though, I see that this author has a book of fairy tales. Russian fairy tales... now that's intriguing.
My favorite quotes:
"There once lived a girl who was beloved by her mother but no one else. "
"It was like a temporary suicide, he thought, a thing that everyone desires at some point - to step out for a while, then come back to see what happened."