Interesting at first, but it wasn’t quite the food memoir I was expecting from the descriptions. It was nice to have the historical context, but this often overtook the more interesting stuff about food and the author’s experiences and family, and I felt like I had to slog through a lot of dull history to get to the (dwindling) good stuff.
I liked the writing style of these stories, and they were interesting in terms of where and who they focused on. But a lot of the stories didn’t really go anywhere and felt incomplete. Some were more like portraits of individual characters, but without a story. Others seemed to be heading to a climax, but then abruptly ended without any resolution. A bit of a mixed bag, really.
Most of the stories have a humorous, albeit anxious, writing style to them that makes them entertaining to read, despite the (gross!) subject matter. A few towards the end are a bit more grim though, and they weren’t as appealing to me.
I came across The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight by Gina Ochsner after more digging through my library’s online catalog, and it sounded interesting from the descriptions I found online. Sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my hopes for it.
The book follows a loosely associated group of people living in the same decaying apartment building in Perm, Russia, and it changes perspective between several of the characters. It was hard to tell what time period this took place, though it seemed to be the recent past, aside from the occasional flashback. It was definitely post-Soviet era, but some of the elements felt older.
It was also hard to get a grip on who was really the main character, since the perspective changes weren’t really balanced. A lot of focus was put on Olga, a translator for a propaganda newspaper, but then most of the plot eventually circled around Tanya, a girl in her 20s working in a museum while trying to figure out what she’d rather do with her life. It was frustrating when the perspective switched to some of the lesser characters, especially since those chapters didn’t feel like they added much to the story.
The story itself was rather loosely pieced together, and it just kind of fell away as I read on. I wanted something more out of the characters and the potential the early story seemed to have, but it never quite got there.
Overall, I’d say it was just an ok book. Some elements were interesting, but, ultimately, it just never felt real or compelling enough.