Reality Check: The Possessed by Elif Batuman

on Tuesday, December 14, 2010
It was a simple Cartesian equation. I like Russian literature. Elif Batuman has written a book about "Russian Books and the People Who Read Them". Ergo, I will like this book. And I did. Sort of. Sucked in by a pretty cute premise, I found myself drifting as I waded ever deeper in to its pages. I think this started as a collection of essays, published separately, in various lit rags. That would make sense. This book works if approached in bite-sized chunks. As a whole, I'm less convinced. Anyway, here's the review in three couplets of rhyming verse. Apologies for the extra syllable in the last line. I needed it to get in the godawful Russian literary pun. As I said at the start of this month, I've never claimed to be a poet!

There's something that's rather peculiar you see
About readers of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
Conspiracy theorists and paranoid freaks
How they do Babel on these Chekhovian geeks
It's a glimpse into worlds of high lit and first loves
She's Possessed but I wasn't, when Pushkin came to shove


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