Female. Slavic mind. Avid reader.
I read across a broad range of book genres, with an emphasis on Aus/NZ lit, Russian and Ukrainian literature, Latin-American literature and European history.
This book is a collection of short stories set in Soviet-era Russia and Germany prior to WW2, during WW2 and post-war.
Though it was interesting to read Vollmann's interpretations of historical figures and events in both countries, I disliked how liberally he strew the theme of sex as an instigator of creativity or impromptu 'casus belli' for all the interpersonal conflicts throughout the texts. That is so typical an approach for American novels of this genre it's irksome to see it in yet another novel. Additionally, the emphasis on sex by the author struck me as disrespectful to the all too eminent pathos which is leavened even in the barebone narratives of the involved historical figures' lives, particularly the Russian ones whose fates turned out to be especially tragic. Since many of the historical figures in the stories were artists, the strong element of pathos to their fates had a somewhat mythopoeic quality, which I felt the author failed to disinter in his writing discussing their legacies, and crudely spat upon it by shuttling forth some trashy sexual fantasy in its place.
Perhaps this may be appealing to someone who doesn't have a penchant for the spiritual and cultural side of things, however I was left with the impression of a unconvincing, superficial piece of writing.