Top critical review
Strangely engaging and utterly unique
on 10 August 2017
***Actual Rating: 3.5/5***
This slim volume is bursting with four tall tales that are simply a rhapsody of random.
The characters' often confusing psychological metamorphosis throughout is either a result of a mind of high intelligence, or someone that’s completely off their trolley. The jury’s still out on that one, I’m afraid!
The absurdities presented by strained Russian political situations in the early 20th century allow the plots to run riot, blitzing bureaucratic streets, oppressive workplaces, and the biting cold of uninviting apartment complexes.
A quick rundown of the stories include: a dismissed office clerk’s sulphur induced hallucinogenic doppelganger effect, the abrupt end to a tough regime that thrives courtesy of an insufferable building supervisor, an immigrant’s unintentional progression within the Russian army, and a surreal dream in which a man cons an entire province out of billions.
I can’t remotely fathom the whys and wherefores of the individual plots, other than Diaboliad and other Stories grips an 'arrogant' regime with both hands and attacks it with shrewd rebellion and an undiluted irony.
While Diaboliad (first published in 1924) was by far my favourite story from this odd collection, each tale was colossally chaotic enough to compel me to keep reading. After this taster I'd be intrigued to try this author’s further work, as the flash of ideas that rebound off the page are strangely engaging and utterly unique - ‘quirky’ doesn’t quite do it justice!
(I received this copy from Alma Books in a Twitter competition they ran earlier in 2016. Yep, it's been on the TBR a while!)