Archive for Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Giveaway Winner

Posted in Promotions with tags , , , on February 1, 2013 by jaclemens

Congratulations to Daisy, the winner of the Petrushevskaya collection! You will be contacted via e-mail for mailing information. Thanks to everyone who entered! There will be another giveaway this month, also from Penguin.

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Russian Dandelion

Posted in Fiction, New release, Recommendations with tags , , , on January 29, 2013 by jaclemens

ImageI’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.

There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories comes out today, and Penguin has provided me with a copy for a giveaway. See the previous post for an excerpt of the lead story, “A Murky Fate,” and leave a comment for a chance to win!

A Murky Fate (excerpt)

Posted in Fiction, New release, Promotions, Recommendations with tags , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by jaclemens

I am pleased to present an excerpt from There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. The book will be released in paperback tomorrow, and Viking has provided me with a copy to giveaway! Enjoy the lead story, “A Murky Fate,” and add a comment to be entered to win this uncommon collection.

A Murky Fate

This is what happened. An unmarried woman in her thirties implored her mother to leave their one-room apartment for one night so she could bring home a lover.

This so-called lover bounced between two households, his mother’s and his wife’s, and he had an overripe daughter of fourteen to consider as well. About his work at the laboratory he constantly fretted. He would brag to anyone who listened about the imminent promotion that never materialized. The insatiable appetite he displayed at office parties, where he stuffed himself, was the result of an undiagnosed diabetes that enslaved him to thirst and hunger and lacquered him with pasty skin, thick glasses, and dandruff. A fat, balding man-child of forty-two with a dead-end job and ruined health—this was the treasure our unmarried thirtysomething brought to her apartment for a night of love.

He approached the upcoming tryst matter-of-factly, almost like a business meeting, while she approached it from the black desperation of loneliness. She gave it the appearance of love or at least infatuation: reproaches and tears, pleadings to tell her that he loved her, to which he replied, “Yes, yes, I quite agree.” But despite her illusions she knew there was no romance in how they moved from the office to her apartment, picking up cake and wine at his request; how her hands shook when she was unlocking the door, terrified that her mother might have decided to stay.

The woman put water on for tea, poured wine, and cut cake. Her lover, stuffed with cake, flopped himself across the armchair. He checked the time, then unfastened his watch and placed it on a chair. His underwear was white and clean. He sat down on the edge of the sofa, wiped his feet with his socks, and lay down on the fresh sheets. Afterward they chatted; he asked again what she thought of his chances for a promotion. He got up to leave. At the door, he turned back toward the cake and cut himself another large piece. He asked her to change a three-ruble bill but, receiving no reply, pecked her on the forehead and slammed the door behind him. She didn’t get up. Of course the affair was over for him. He wasn’t coming back—in his childishness he hadn’t understood even that much, skipping off happily, unaware of the catastrophe, taking his three rubles and his overstuffed belly.

The next day she didn’t go to the cafeteria but ate lunch at her desk. She thought about the coming evening, when she’d have to face her mother and resume her old life. Suddenly she blurted out to her officemate: “Well, have you found a man yet?” The woman blushed miserably: “No, not yet.” Her husband had left her, and she’d been living alone with her shame and humiliation, never inviting any of her friends to her empty apartment. “How about you?” she asked. “Yes, I’m seeing someone,” the woman replied. Tears of joy welled up in her eyes.

But she knew she was lost. From now on, she understood, she’d be chained to the pay phone, ringing her beloved at his mother’s, or his wife’s. To them she’d be known as that woman—the last in a series of female voices who had called the same numbers, looking for the same thing. She supposed he must have been loved by many women, all of whom he must have asked about his chances for promotion, then dumped. Her beloved was insensitive and crude—everything was clear in his case. There was nothing but pain in store for her, yet she cried with happiness and couldn’t stop.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, selected and translated by Anna Summers. Copyright © 2013 by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. Translation and introduction copyright © 2013 by Anna Summers.