Baize-covered Table with Decanter Paperback – 21 Nov 1995
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Whether he intends to or not, Makanin does a good job describing the moral corruption of Russian/Soviet society. Neighbor is turned against neighbor. Bribes and sexual favors are freely exchanged. Fear rules. It seems no one is immune to this societal degradation. Baize-Covered Table leaves the reader with the impression that, although the Soviet torture methods may have diminished in recent years, psychological torture that breaks a person's spirit, mind, and body may persist... there will always be a Table in Russia.
The translation seems mediocre, although I haven't read it in Russian. Some sections were hard to follow and some word choices seemed clumsy. I do think Makanin is a gifted writer and plan on reading more of his material. He certainly has a deep understanding of Russian psychology and society. I was really impressed with the story's conclusion and his descriptions of the actual Table. Very symbolic!
This book contains a few sections with what I consider adult material that wouldn't be appropriate for pre-college readers. One scene in particular describes the sexual abuse of a corpse and is really quite disturbing.
If you have an interest in Russian/Soviet culture/history/literature this book is worth the read. It may also appeal to those with an interest in psychology and human behavior.