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IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall [Paperback]

Pavel Kostin , Max Bollinger , James Rann
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.43
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Book Description

31 Mar 2012
This is a book about all the magical new things that you can discover if you're brave enough to break out of your boring routine and take a fresh look at the world around you. But this is also a story about love. Passionate, selfless love. That may seem ridiculously naive in today's world... So be it. It's a book about how, whatever trials life may have in store for you, if at heart you are a romantic, if you know how to love, then everything will work out. An artist's novel, a journey of life, street art and magic, a story written by the city itself and by the street-artists living there. Our heroes are both ordinary and extraordinary young romantics, they use their life and art to express new ideas. The story follows a group of street artists, not unlike Banksy, Ben Eine, Cityzen Kane, C215, Roa. These characters are secretive. They live in their own world with their own philosophy and outlook on life. But how does one become such urban romantic? We see a freedom seeking artist in Pavel's new novel, we see his journey, his adventures, his dilemmas and his choices. What would you choose? The comfort of daily routine or the free spirit of art? For Pavel's characters this becomes a question of life and death.

Product details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Urban Romantics; 1st edition (31 Mar 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907832181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907832185
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 13.1 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,059,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"This whole novel is about bursting out against a role, against the expectations laid out for us and against surroundings we've grown too comfortable in. Much of the book is a succession of impressions, of ruminations on life, on art, on reality, on our surroundings. The protagonist, Max, is reminiscent of a Fitzgerald type narrator, pulled in every which way and wandering through the conflict of the story. I was deeply impressed by the mood that surrounds it, the simple language combined with deep meaning, the motifs of friendship, love, everyday magic, and probably one of the biggest things that of the consequences of adulthood, of finding oneself." -- Natalie Meyer, California, USA

"This book is about the new generation of young people, about new ideas, about the fact that everything is possible if one has faith. Very emotional, soulful, and sincere. I read it in one go. The ending both shocked and inspired, made me want to live and explore life. The book's spirituality reminds me of Haruki Murakami but I disagree with the final choice of the lead character." -- Yevgeni Topunov, Cambridge, UK

"At first I thought Pavel Kostin's 'It's Time' was going to be a twenty-first-century Catcher in the Rye set in Russia, but then it sets off into the summer sunset of the naval port's docklands. I like the way Kostin's main character stays positive against a backdrop of decaying industrial sprawl - I don't know why this strikes me as a non-commercial version of 80's punk, but it does just that and I thought it very refreshing." -- Andrew Whitmore, UK

"A beautifully, lyrically crafted novel. If one could combine the contradictory ideas of a soul's torments and the joy of life in one book this would be the book. Coming from a young author, it was so refreshing to discover no cynicism or crude language. It was a joy to read. You felt extraordinary compassion for the protagonist in his tormented quest, you rejoiced in his optimism, you were bound to feel what he felt. Just look at his description of waves coming to shore: 'The ubiquitous arrival of waves, one after another. It's so calming, if you look at it. But the point is not this subtle murmur of waves. It's the fact that after this wave there will be another, and then another. And so forever. It never fails to calm me. Forever. Do my problems even have a meaning compared to this word...' But don't get me wrong it's not just a descriptive novel of rumination: there is a plot here skilfully designed and not resolved until the very end." -- Irene Rudra, Texas, USA

"I love this book because, although it is the story of certain unusual individuals living unusual lives, it illuminates all the existence of all of us. Thanks to Kostin's gift for characterisation, we really believe the conversations and musings of this cast of outsiders. They, like Pavel, and like me, are fascinated by the city, and the way we all interact with it. Kostin hymns the urban landscape and the young people that refuse to just exist in it, but live in it, by it, and through it. We see them, and their lives, and their art (which accompanies the text) and we see the way their art elevates their lives. From up on the rooftop, we can see everything, and it is beautiful." -- James Rann, The Translator

About the Author

About The Author

Pavel Kostin is a contemporary romantic writer with passion for magical and mystical side of life. His heroes are mysterious, often secretive, unusual and yet ordinary young people who want to understand the world around them. They are often artists and romantics at heart, and this unites them in their eternal search for truth, freedom, love and friendship.

About The Translator

James Rann is an award winning young British literary translator and linguistics specialist, an Oxford graduate with first class in classics and distinction in Russian. James lived and studied in Russia where he polished his knowledge of modern Russian and shaped up his unique understanding of both classical tradition of European literature and modern approach and literary innovation of Pushkin, Lermontov and Mayakovskiy. Poetry bloggers describe James as The Sunshine of Russian

Pavel Kostin About His Novel

IT'S TIME is a book which has been written by the city. Not me. Not a man. The book appeared on the walls of the city itself, has grown along with structures and buildings over time. So I can say that the novel is written on the walls of my city. This relates directly to the plot ... but I am not going to spoil the fun for you here, I will just say that the secret is hidden in the urban art, street art, and my book about this partly.

There are many mysteries there, but what is mysticism? Who can reveal, where it ends and begins? Is magic real? I believe that magic exists and always existed, that it is present in each of us, lives in every moment of our lives, and it is is hidden from everyday sight, and only occasionally, sometimes, for one sparkling moment - she shows us her radiant self. I believe everyone experienced those moments at some point in their life. Do you remember one of your magic moments? My book is about this.

The city is inhabited by different people. Strange and funny. Ordinary and extraordinary. By those who make you want to yawn with boredom, and those that capture your imagination. People who cannot imagine how to break free from comfortable, warm and unbearably dull routine, and people who cannot imagine a day in it. People who repeat only what has been taught to them, and people who are always doing something new and want to build for themselves another life. Ordinary people and ... not so ordinary. Where would you place yourself? My book is about this, too.

The city has a surface and a bottom. The city has a day and a night. Bright day, tense, full of dust and bustle; night - dark and mysterious, full of beauty and charm. Day comes with work, rush and routine it is time for business people. Nigh brings opportunities for creation and the unknown it is time to discover the unknown, time for artists and explorers. But beware, the seeker! At the depths of the night, there at the bottom, unchartered waters await with surprises and danger. Is it worth risking the dusty bustle of the day for the sake of coolness and beauty of the night? What would you personally choose? Predictability and comfort of routine or dangers of discovering the unknown? My book is about this.

There is noise and there is peace in the city. A continuous struggle and the romantic beauty, there is boredom and there is magic in the city. It's a place to escape and a place where danger awaits. There is endless traffic and eternal peace. There are enemies and friends there. The city is you and there is street art in the city. That's what my book is all about.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird but good 25 July 2012
By Max
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am a huge fan of classical Russian literature, particularly Dostoevsky, so I was really intrigued by what I would make of a contemporary Russian novel like It's Time.

Having read the book, I'd say any comparison with 18th or early 19th century works is hardly worth making. It's Time is a very unusual book. To the extent that it is identifiably Russian, I'd say it shares the slight sense of madness I always get from reading, for example, Notes from the Underground (Dover Thrift). This is a big positive for the novel.

In the same way, the characterisations and descriptions of the city Kostin writes about are excellent, and made for a very enjoyable read.

Yet I feel that the book has lost too much in translation, which is why I've only given it three stars. The abstract, philosophical nature of Max's musings and conversations require almost perfect use of language to pull off, and I suspect to get the full enjoyment from what is clearly excellent writing, you'd need to be able to read it in Russian.

As it is, I'm left with a book which I admire, but I'm also left with a feeling that somehow I've missed out on the best that this novel has to offer, because I'm reading it in English.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Leading a talented life 23 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A strange novel, which has little new to say. It might have gone down well in the late 60's in downtown San Francisco, with everyone nodding wisely at descriptions of the individual as "the eternal mark of a million coincidences". Being high on LSD this might have had the "Wow" factor then , but of little new relevance today. Is the protagonist Max really profound or just high on drugs? Hypersensitivity to life's stimuli in the novel gets just that bit boring after a while, and is not clever.

The various blurbs and spiel on the frontispiece I found confusing and misleading, as they certainly don't resonate with my experience of the novel. Perhaps I am not intellectual enough to appreciate them, but to me they don't relate at all.

The quasi-Rorschach black and white images interspersed throughout the book suggest an attempt to give a psychological slant to the content in terms of "What is reality?". Perception of reality is indeed one of asking questions such as, "What are we really seeing?" "Do we all share the same impressions of life", or "Does it even exist at all?" Quite regular stuff and much discussed in the world's literature, this novel keeps banging on about them, but does not develop in any significant way.

The characters are presented as a simplistic amalgam of psychiatric disorders plucked out of the DSM Manual - bits of autism, (well, lots of that), paranoid schizophrenia and personality disorder, hardly "magical things to discover". In fact something to avoid and run away screaming from. And also where does Lady F. fit in?, either the voice of the unconscious, or some attempt to provide some philosophical comment, which is pretty weak.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious 4 Feb 2013
By Book Critic VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm sorry to say I couldn't finish this. The description sounded fascinating, `a book about all the magical new things that you can discover if you're brave enough to break out of your boring routine and take a fresh look at the world around you.' Sounds good, I thought. I'll have some of that. Sadly, reading it was a chore from the start, never a pleasure, and there are just too many other books in the world I actually want to read. Was there a story here? I couldn't find one. It read like the conversations at a student all-nighter that's been crashed by the philosophy professor - the one who thinks he's `down with the kids', who's never quite grasped that it's not 1973 any more.

I think much of the problem could be with the translation. I've read other Russian novels that read like this, translations that drive far too close to the original words. This may very well be how Russian people speak, but it doesn't work in English; conversations felt clumsy, heavy and unnatural. The description is full of pseudo-philosophy. It just felt like it was trying SO hard to be BIG, surreal and full of meaning, and it just wasn't.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life observed from a rooftop 27 May 2012
'It's Time' offers English readers a rare glimpse into contemporary Russian writing. Subtleties, connotations, nuance and sounds - and particularly argot and colloquialisms - of the original language can't be completely reproduced in a translation. It's far easier to translate Tolstoy than a contemporary writer and James Rann has done a great job, but I can't help feeling that the novel probably has a greater impact in Russian.
That quibble apart, this novel should be welcomed. The author is Russian, but there's a universality about his city in the novel - it's undefined, it's anywhere and everywhere. The protagonist Max spends much of his time on a roof observing this city which melds into one with the sky and the sea. Below him is faceless and stressful urban life, whilst up on his roof Max has entered a different plane of quasi-metaphysical musings, imagination, freedom, beauty - perhaps some kind of magic. Those whom he interacts with are on his wave length: Viktor the photographer who sees beauty unseen by others, artist Mutt who has developed an idiosyncratic vision which blanks out all the city dross and sees only his paintings `flashing and burning in the darkness'. Max is mourning the loss of his beloved Tanya and is comforted by his enigmatic friend, Lady F, who appears and reappears unbidden, encouraging him to believe that all is possible - and who may or not be real. As Max seeks for meaning, miraculous coincidences and escapes from death heighten this sense of mystery and magic. His street artist friend expresses his own search for meaning through his `writing on the wall', examples of which are integrated into the text in the book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting novel
I liked this book but it is not for everyone. It is translated from russian and I think that the translator did a very good job of translating a weird and unusual script. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lova
3.0 out of 5 stars Three star book
This translated book is, according to the author, 'about all the magical new things that you can discover if you are brave enough to break out of your boring routine and take a... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ms. C. R. Stillman-lowe
4.0 out of 5 stars I started reading with a heavy heart, but then.....
I was not expecting to enjoy this book at all but couldn't out put it down. It's all the magical new things that you can discover if you're brave enough to break out of your boring... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Roger Sharp
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh.
I tried to understand it. I love edgy new literature. But I say literature, then I read "urban romantics"... and it all falls apart. Read more
Published 15 months ago by southcoastreviewer
4.0 out of 5 stars Artistic Russian Musings: expect some existential angst
This is a very Russian 'arty' book and you have to appreciate the genre to get the most from this sort of literature. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Zipster Zeus
1.0 out of 5 stars 'Gobbledygook'
I requested this via the `Amazon Vine' Programme with a little reserve, but I was taken with much of what I'd read about it, and what people thought and had been saying on the... Read more
Published 22 months ago by FAMOUS NAME
3.0 out of 5 stars Strange and quirky, it retains some of its original Russian artwork
Although translated from its original Russian, the translator has chosen to use much trans-Atlantic vernacular and it consequently gives the unfortunate impression of trying to... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Andy_atGC
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky is the word, but then I am!
Yes, yes, yes I liked it; it is quirky as a fellow reviewer wrote but wow I really think I got it. Now that little question mark in the statement "think I got it", is so important... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Mr. A. C. Thorne
3.0 out of 5 stars A niche book for young dreamers and lovers of beauty.
This is a fairly typical Russian book full of obtuseness and vague meanderings through reality and the dream world of Art and beauty. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Moonshine.
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky
This was quite distinctive. I liked that I wasn't certain what to expect and it took a while to get used to the writing. Read more
Published on 12 Aug 2012 by The Emperor
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