Memories of the Future: Stories

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, Author, Joanne Turnbull, Translator, Nikolai Formozov, With , trans. from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull. New York Review Books $15.95 (228p) ISBN 978-1-59017-319-0

Fantastically imaginative, darkly ironic and marvelously crafted, these seven tales written in the 1920s were unpublished during Krzhizhanovsky’s lifetime. Set mostly in Moscow, where the toilsome workdays sap spiritual strength, the stories are about the strange, wondrous and alarming things that can result from a chance encounter. In “Quadraturin,” the most straightforward story, the resident of a “matchbox”-size flat is proffered an experimental formula for “biggerizing rooms,” which, when applied, expands the space and doesn’t stop until the room becomes a “black wilderness.” In “Someone Else’s Theme,” a writer meets a down-on-his-luck seller of “philosophical systems,” while the protagonist of “The Branch Line” is directed to a train that spirits him into a disorienting dreamscape. The long title story is the biography of a brilliant, lonely scientist, Max Shterer, whose obsessive pursuit of “making time dance in a circle” proves prescient and chilling. Turnbull’s translation reads wonderfully, capturing the isolation and strangeness of Krzhizhanovsky’s startling stories. (July)

Reviewed on: 05/18/2009
Release date: 10/01/2009
Genre: Fiction
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