SNOW WHITE AND RUSSIAN RED

Dorota Masowska, Author, Dorota Maslowska, Author, Benjamin Paloff, Translator , trans. from the Polish by Benjamin Paloff. Grove/Black Cat $13 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-7001-9

A hit in 21-year-old Maslowska's native Poland and elsewhere in Europe, this punishing successor to first-person "lad" novels like Trainspotting serves up its nastiness spiked with pitch-black humor. Young, paranoid Polish speed fiend Andrzej "Nails" Robakoski presents himself, in hyperbolic stream-of-speech, as an ignoble chump morbidly obsessed with death whose trampy blonde girlfriend Magda has just dumped him. Living at home with a working but absent mother and felonious "bro," Nails adheres to a busy schedule of snorting lines, scarfing "Bird Milkies" (or chocolate-covered marshmallows), text-messaging and denouncing both American consumerism and Russian bootlegged goods. After Magda, Nails—mindlessly nationalist, misogynist, homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic—turns to anorexic virgin Angela, a Goth girl in black whom he feeds drugs and sexually assaults. Eventually, Nails is incarcerated for stealing a soda and walkie-talkie from a local McDonald's. In a hokey metafictional twist, he encounters "Dorota Maslowska," a teenage writer working as a typist at the jail, and then, after a collision with a prison wall, enters a hallucinatory state not much different from his waking life and from which the rest of the novel emerges. Paloff's translation is pitch-perfectly speedy, and with political ironies resounding throughout, it's clear that Maslowska is not exactly endorsing her blank generation, though the claustrophobic narrative presents few avenues of escape. Agent, Maria Strarz-Kanska at Graal (Poland). (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/07/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-2317-1
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