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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life observed from a rooftop
'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...
Published on 27 May 2012 by Rachel Redford

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird but good
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...
Published on 25 July 2012 by Max


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird but good, 25 July 2012
This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
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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
By 
Sandford "Sandy" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
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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.

There are important continuing observations throughout, like seizing the day, taking risks, and appreciating the Gestalt of the moment, with all the choice and options that are there every breathing moment. Always expect the unexpected, and keep life a mystery. OK, I got the message quickly.

I have probably got hold of the wrong end of the stick, but I am sure after reading this book, I will not be on my own here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious, 4 Feb 2013
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Book Critic (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
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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
This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
'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.
What is refreshing about the novel is that it is about gentleness, love, life, and freedom from the base values of city life: there is no violence, sex, politics or cruelty. Max is alive to the beauty of the city and its skies. For him, seeing the sunset colours is to enter into a secret place: 'It's as if I'm here and there simultaneously, everywhere, in every cell of this night, and that all of this is some sweet secret' Watching the waves produces within him a calm poetry of movement: 'The beach. The waves roll in. It's already evening, but the sky on the sea is as blindingly bright as it is in the afternoon. The cool sand. I take it in my hand, and billions of tiny stones slip through my fingers in cold streams.'
It's possible that the soul-searching appeals more to Russians with their traditional deep responses to the voice of the soul, but young people anywhere reading this English version will identify with Max's unquiet questioning and questing, and find the tense final pages comfortingly life-affirming. Rather like Max's life, the novel has no traditional structure: there are no beginnings or ends in any of the threads in the narrative, and the final words are `THE BEGINNING'.
This is a brave and unusual publication - read it!

RACHEL REDFORD
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3.0 out of 5 stars Meh., 11 May 2013
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southcoastreviewer "perpetual student" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
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I tried to understand it. I love edgy new literature. But I say literature, then I read "urban romantics"... and it all falls apart.

I love works in translation, and don't shy away from foreign literature. There again, I often try to read it in the original language so I can interpret the work in my own way. And I don't know Russian.

So a modern Russian romantic portrayal that is trying to be quirky and edgy... I don't know, maybe the translator was drunk when they gave it a go. It wasn't to my taste, but I can see there is probably some talent sitting behind the translator's interpretation of this work hence the 3 star rating.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yep, time to bin this absolute non-event!, 22 May 2012
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still searching (MK UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
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Why did I do it? It seemed a good idea at the time and the book - vaguely interesting; particularly after reading the extravagant claims - made by the author. Perhaps I'll write down my random thoughts interspersed between brief accounts of my day during which I do nothing more interesting than encounter various uninteresting friends and associates and a mysterious and intriguing woman with whom I share philosophical musings and who keeps vanishing and then reappearing at odd times: is she real? Perhaps I'll even succeed in getting it published and dupe gullible people into reading it by making, even though it has nothing remotely resembling an actual story, extravagant claims for its contents. Perhaps I'll succeed in getting it published if I make it surreal enough people won't have a clue what it's all about and take the safe option and believe that I'm a genius - just in case.

Dire.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful and unusual novel, 6 May 2012
This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
I received this book thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There are a lot of layers in this book in which eveyone can find something, and an interesting end that makes you want to read the book again.
The story elements - the narrator and his friends and their lives in a city (modeled on Kaliningrad) and street art are well written. The psychology of the characters is very well crafted, each person is interesting. Moreover, Max, the protagonist, sees life in a different way. The story often gives way to long philosophical/metaphysical passages, about life, death, love, art, friendship, fate, the city... Each of these themes are important to me so I enjoyed it. And when you come from a big city yourself this book really speaks to you.
Moreover, something is happening to Max, adding another layer to the book and leading us to the end of the story.
The only drawback in my opinion would be the editing, for instance there was a passage when Max is with Mutt, but 10 lines after it is Torte...
So I would warmly recommend It's Time, if you're not afraid of metaphysical passages and books that challenge you, it's a real page turner.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky is the word, but then I am!, 9 Sep 2012
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This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
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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 because if I were sure that I had it would have lost some of it's mystique and charm. I have only given 4 stars because actually I believe this author has so much more to offer and I sense that as good as this was the next will be even better. I am not saying anything else about this book save, that if you like me are open to the unprdeictability and uncertainty that 'this is all there is', then read this book as soon as!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, 12 Aug 2012
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The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
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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.

I think that this is probably somewhat of an acquired taste and one that I didn't really acquire.

It did seem quite warm hearted and maybe it will appeal more to people less jaded and cynical than me.

The drawings were quite nice.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A niche book for young dreamers and lovers of beauty., 31 Aug 2012
By 
Moonshine. "Spara Fugle" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall (Paperback)
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This is a fairly typical Russian book full of obtuseness and vague meanderings through reality and the dream world of Art and beauty. A guy spends a lot of time on a roof looking at the city and daydeaming. It sounds stupid but ifyou are into this sort of thing it is valid as an art form. There is a lot of naval gazing and angst amongst hippie types. Love and peace, man. It is a tender book about feelings and the sensitive nature of beauty. Russian writers tend to delve deeply into the process of being artistic and how to express your feelings. It is a harmless little book with no violence or real badness. It's abstract nature requires a bit of imagination, but I enjoyed it. It is not a conventional story with a narrative but is quirky and will appeal to young artistic types. It's a sort of abstract painting where different things are exaggerated out of normal proportion and normal relationships don't apply.
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IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall
IT'S TIME: Writing On The Wall by Pavel Kostin (Paperback - 31 Mar 2012)
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