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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must-read
This is a short book and I am not going to say anything about the story as I don't want to spoil it for you. Andrei Gelasimov is a very talented writer. There is not a single superfluous word in this book. Each word, phrase, sentence, paragraph is deliberate and serves a function. I tend to speed read but I could not with this one. It is a book to take slowly, savour...
Published on 23 Dec 2011 by K. Glaister

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A brief glimpse into Russian literature
This little novella is my first foray into the genre of Russian literature, and did not disappoint.

The plot centres around Kostoya, a Russian soldier who returned from the Chechen War with horrific injuries, completely disfigured. His day-to-day life involves drinking copious amounts of vodka (so much that it can't all fit in his fridge), and scaring his...
Published on 2 Jan 2012 by C. Moorby


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must-read, 23 Dec 2011
By 
K. Glaister "Allotment Queen" (Salisbury UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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This is a short book and I am not going to say anything about the story as I don't want to spoil it for you. Andrei Gelasimov is a very talented writer. There is not a single superfluous word in this book. Each word, phrase, sentence, paragraph is deliberate and serves a function. I tend to speed read but I could not with this one. It is a book to take slowly, savour and enjoy. It is simply a delightful and thought provoking book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abstract Soviet short-story, 28 Nov 2011
By 
J. Morris "Josh" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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Thirst is the story of horrifically-scarred Konstantin. Living alone in his apartment, his only day-to-day contact is his neighbour Olga and her son Nikita - Olga uses Konstantin to move things around her apartment and scare Nikita into bed at night. Konstantin, bitter and confused by his life, drinks heavily, bottle after bottle of Vodka lines his fridge, but when the private that saved his life from a burning-APC goes missing, his equally-injured comrades decides to mount a search party, will they find Seryoga before it's too late?

Thirst runs in three timescales; Konstantin's childhood, his service (specifically the events leading up to and after the fire) and finally, his subsequent life. We see Konstantin as a child being taught to draw by a great alcoholic artist who is permanently thirsty. We learn the events that have misshapen him (figuratively & literally) and consequently the bonds between his brothers-in-arms that still live in the present as we search for Seryoga. All of the ex-soldiers are badly wounded and bitter alcoholics, but Konstantin's rediscovery of his talent for drawing allows him to paint them as if they were whole. He literally fills in what is missing today, whether it's the children people never had, the limbs they've lost or the wife that couldn't bear to look at the scars.

All in all, very short - 113 pages of dialogue-based paragraphs - but interestingly concise and conveys a lot with very little. Truly ambiguous and open to multiple interpretations, but worth a look if you enjoy Russian literature.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 15 Mar 2012
By 
Patrick Duffy "The Dapper Dude" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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Found this short novel intriguing.

Kostoya is a man with not a to live for. A survivor of the war, he spends his days drinking vodka until some comrades of his come calling on him.
They head off in search of a friend and along the way he discovers the memories of drawing.

After calling to his father, who has started life with a new family, Kostoya draws for the children and through this he expresses memories of those he has met. His memories come to life through the drawings.

Don't expect this novel to be full of action.
It is a story woven together with care and consideration.
A book to be enjoyed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to drink but vodka ..., 29 Nov 2011
By 
P. Millar "dazzle" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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Konstantin is a veteran of the Russian-Chechnyan war who now spends his days living in his apartment drinking vodka, interspersed with days when he works to make more money to buy the vodka. The book opens with him trying to find room in his fridge for the almost endless bottles of vodka he has acquired to sink himself, once more, into oblivion.

Through flashbacks to the war, his childhood and his love of drawing we are drawn into his world, one where he is trying to find his place in it and return to the outside. Each character thirsts for something more than they have, hence the title, and each one is thirsty for more vodka (as Russian culture and vodka seem inextricably linked).

This is a short simply written novel which involves you in the daily lives of a few Russians, each one trying to find a place in their small world and acceptance of themselves. Overall I enjoyed this book and would be interested in reading more by this author.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vodka - the water of life?, 28 Feb 2013
By 
Alexa (Midlothian United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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It has taken me a long time to write this review. Not because the book is a slow read - I finished it in an evening - but because every time I started to write, the detail of a scene occurred to me... and I went back. I have read this novella at least three times already ; the first time I read it, I thought it good, after the second time, great.
This book is short, in large type and not difficult to read. Yet each time I read it, I find another subtle touch.

The narrator, Kostya, a young veteran of the conflict in Chechnya, lives alone in his apartment, his refridgerator stacked full of vodka bottles. He is so horrifically scarred that his young neighbour uses him as a bogeyman to scare her small son into obedience. He remains in touch with two of his comrades, who were also in the burning APV. They come round from time to time and deplete his vodka supplies - but always separately, having fallen out with each other over a business deal. Then another member of their squad goes missing. Serezha has never really coped with coming back from the war, never holds a job. But he was the one who pulled them out; so they bail him out - and always will.

And in this case, it means that all three pile into one vehicle and drive around, trying to find out what happened to him. In the process they learn little about their missing man, but more about themselves, and each other.

This is a story told by a narrator who is not good with words. Nor is he really insightful or introspective. He expresses himself through his drawings, putting into them the ideas and hopes that he cannot articulate. Through his descriptions, he draws us a compelling portrait of the bleakness and moral emptiness of post-Soviet life: a world so grim Kostya gladly went into the army to escape from it. And through his drawings we glimpse the inner life of this stolid ex-soldier with an expressionless mask for a face. But the reader is not the only one to glimpse the man beneath the mask, and the story ends with a taste of hope.

These young men - their country's "lost generation" - thirst for more than the vodka in which they seek oblivion. And maybe - just maybe - they find it.

On the translation: Marian Schwartz has done an incredible job in translation. She achieves the correct register for a story that is narrated in the voice of the Russian underclasses. There are the occasional infelicities for a British reader, as she translates Russian slang into American, but this is, I think, unavoidable. Literary language can be universal, but colloquial terms differ between our cultures - and to convert Gelasimov's words into "standard English" would subvert the whole tone of the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, 15 April 2012
By 
Mike France (SW France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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Creative writing at its best. An ultimately inspiring tale of a damaged being finding his self respect and future direction in the unlikely setting of modern Russia.

The tale focusses on the central character, a veteran of the Chechen conflict and his friends, ex-army colleagues. The tale weaves through a bleak physical and emotional landscape but is so well written that you cannot tear yourself away from it. It is one of those books that remains etched into your mind.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Portrait of a war veteran, 17 Feb 2012
By 
S. Pawley - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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This short novel is a first-person portrait of a veteran of Russia's Chechen war, whose face is disfigured as a result of his injuries and who is deeply disconnected from his family and friends. The narrative might be described as a disjointed stream-of-consciousness. It suggests psychological instability, and a general aimlessness, but also gives an impression of a narrator ruminating on whatever springs to mind. This last aspect makes the narrator a more approachable character, and keeps the reader's attention (there is no 'plot' here, as such). The central themes of the book -- the problems faced by soldiers returning to civilian life -- will almost certainly be familiar, although the Russian context introduces some new elements. What distinguishes the book is the writing, which has an abstract quality that can be rather hypnotic. Over the course of a longer book it might become a little wearing, but this piece is short enough that it does not become a problem.
The translation effectively renders the clipped brevity of conversational Russian whilst still making the meaning perfectly clear and the prose very readable.
Neither the subject nor the writing style will appeal to everyone, but this book offers a powerful evocation of events and experiences very distant from those of most British readers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vodka is the water of life?, 29 Dec 2011
By 
Freckles (Knaresborough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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Konstantin is unable to find room in his fridge for all his vodka! He lines the bottle up on shelves, in the sink and on the floor. There is a good reason why Konstantin drinks so much, for his has not been an easy life.

He joined the Russian army to distance himself from his cold and unloving father and saw action in Afghanistan. It was during this conflict that Konstantin was cruelly injured. A grenade was thrown in to the APC he and his comrades were travelling in and, because he was the last to be rescued, his face has been horrifically burned.

Now he spends his days in a small apartment and his only purpose in life, apart from drinking vodka, is to scare the little boy next door in to behaving for his fraught mother Olga.

News reaches him that one of his former comrades has gone missing and he finds himself journeying to Moscow with his friends to search for him. It appears that they too have a fondness for vodka, so he is in good company.

Andrei Gelasimov is a very talented writer. He skilfully switches from one time frame and character to the next with seamless ease. His depiction of Konstantin and his lonely, sad existence is just beautiful. We learn more and more about Konstantin's life and personality including his talent for drawing. This is a short novel, but easy to read and very worthwhile. Gelasimov reveals how all the characters are searching for something...looking for a different life, but, sadly, they are not going to find it in the bottom of a vodka bottle.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "All the Vodka wouldn't fit in the Fridge", 26 Dec 2011
By 
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
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Andrei Gelasimov has been feted in Russia and is both commercially and critically acclaimed. This novella is an attempt by Amazon Crossing to bring his work to the attention of the wider world. It tells the story of Konstantin, who desperate to get away from his father's lack of paternal instinct and an education he could not be bothered with, decided not to be a draft dodger in the war against Chechnya.

Whilst there his Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) is attacked and a hand grenade burns it out. He is mistaken for dead and hence is pulled from the burning wreck last. He has been terribly burned. After recovery he seeks solace in bouts of heavy vodka drinking. He works alone to earn enough money for these alcoholic bouts, his neighbour uses him to scare her son into obedience, I suppose as a sort of living bogey man. He is also in touch with his old comrades and part of the story is taken up with a vodka fuelled search for one who has gone missing.

His life story is also told in flashback, and the narrative is as liquid as the vodka that permeates all of the stories. It does flow despite flitting from childhood, the war and back to the present. There is also quite a bit of dialogue to move the story forward and Konstantin uses his skill for drawing to make things right on paper that are just wrong in the real world.

I must mention Marian Schwartz, she translated this work. Whilst I do not judge her academic credentials, I think that her literal translation in places made some of the passages slightly awkward. At one point someone is told to `move his buns'. I have never heard of that phrase ever, to move your arse or ass would have fitted better. Still that is hardly deal breaker. I read this in one day as it kept pulling me back to the narrative. It has a deep contemplative mood that sits well with self analysis through the bottom of a vodka glass. Whilst a short read at just over a hundred pages, it is far from an easy one as so much is crammed into every sentence. There are plans to bring out another three of Gelasimov's books and I shall look forward to reading them, I might even try it with a glass or two, to see what I am missing.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A brief glimpse into Russian literature, 2 Jan 2012
By 
C. Moorby - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thirst (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This little novella is my first foray into the genre of Russian literature, and did not disappoint.

The plot centres around Kostoya, a Russian soldier who returned from the Chechen War with horrific injuries, completely disfigured. His day-to-day life involves drinking copious amounts of vodka (so much that it can't all fit in his fridge), and scaring his next-door neighbour's child into going to bed at night. However, the drudgery of his day-to-day existence is cast into disarray when the man who saved him from a burning tank goes missing and he attempts to search for him together with his former comrades.

The plot itself runs on two different time lines -- the present, with Kostoya drinking himself into oblivion to shut out the world, and the past detailing Kostoya's childhood, introducing his love of and talent for drawing. Andrei Gelasimov contrasts and juxtaposes these episodes in Kostoya's life to great effect, making subtle statements on modern day Russia and the difficulties former soldiers face.

However, by far the best element of the book is the recurring theme of thirst, as the very title itself suggests. Gelasimov uses the idea and physical state of thirst to represent a need for something (and not just vodka). The former soldiers' unquenchable thirst for vodka can be read as a physical manifestation of their search for some kind of meaning and a place in the world, a clever literary device that highlights Gelasimov's skill as a writer.

An interesting short story that really packs a punch.
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