A Thousand Flappers and Hobbledehoys

not merely superfluous, but ridiculous

Voices of Chernobyl — Review

this post was originally published on my Goodreads account.

Harrowing. Difficult to continue reading in places, because of the matter-of-fact description of unspeakable things happening to blameless people and the feelings of helplessness it evokes. Alexievich originates hardly a single word in this whole book. Instead, she interviewed hundreds of survivors, edited their accounts (leaving out whatever questions she asked) and put the stuff she wanted to keep in this book. We never get a scientific overview of the accident, we never get told the difference between rumor and fact, and there is no godlike authorial voice to sort out the conflicting accounts. We don’t know any more than the individuals who relate their own experiences, and this makes their fear and confusion more immediate and understandable. We’re thrown into the maelstrom of history with them and have to figure out what’s up and what’s down as best we can. The accounts in the book suggest an innate Belarussian gift for storytelling–everyone from peasants to scientists exhibit an eye for detail and a sense of pacing that would be the envy of most American short story writers. But I suspect the bulk of the praise here should go to Alexievich, for finding these diamonds in hundreds of interview hours and knowing exactly how much to show of each one.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on 24 January 2016 by in Elegant Extracts and tagged , , , .
January 2016
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: