Imagine a drunken Dante on an epic railway journey to nowhere, pondering the merits of various cocktails made from furniture polishes and solvents, debating the meaning of life and the worth of his soul, hilarious and tragic by turns That'll give you a rough idea of what it's like to fall into this book A delight every time I reread it. A metaphysical seance of hard intellectual drinking And now I know where all these quotes come from. Maybe the best book about Brezhnev's Russia imaginable If you are the kind of person who has ever got drunk with friends, stormed a police station and then declared war on Norway (view spoiler)[ and who hasn't? (hide spoiler)] From the AuthorMoscow to the End of the Line A fun and funny intoxicated ramble around Moscow The man wrecked by affect disorders not fun I hoped the angels might help him, but they embarrassed and silent. If dialectical materialism were turned on its head, something like angels would probably fall out If you got drunk enough to cross Moscow a thousand times without ever seeing the Kremlin, something like freedom would happen, despite the State If poky old Petushki became Eden, just because you loved and it was there, materialism would be turned right side up again, but with the angels left in That’s Erofeev, whose incredibly Russian cocktail of sadness joy, shame, spirituality, and sensual skewering of Lenin is Marxism’s inadvertent glory a gorgeous fyou to Kremlins everywhere. Oh, crap, another Russian writer without a beard! It always makes me so sad Like seeing a squirrel without a tail It seems unnatural, unfair Freakish.I'm impressed by his attempt at a Clark Gable 'stache though.So in the little bit of research I did on this book I found that it's considered a postmodernist prose poem which I didn't necessarily pick up on while I was reading it (The poem bit, I mean the postmodernist part was quite evident.) Now I'm not sure what to think I feel like I should reread it in light of the whole prose poem thing, but no Proust is waiting for me patiently at the bedside table and there's that whole book I'm reading for my reallife Pretentious Bookclub, so there's just no time for a reread of this So let it be known that it's a prose poem Maybe that will help you going into your own reading of it and then you won't have your world turned upside down like mine was.Even though Erofeev didn't sport the Russianclassic (ie, beard), he did write about an alcoholic, so he gets to keep his Russian literary citizenship for that at least Supposedly pseudoautobiographical it follows the story of Venichka who has just lost his job as a cable fitter for charting how much alcohol he and his coworkers drank The majority of the story takes place on a train from Moscow to Petushki and involves the various discussions that take place between Venichka and his other travelers Alcohol is consumed Duh.Petushki is where Venya's lover and child await him, it is his salvation and joy; unlike Moscow which obviously is meant to be all about restriction, destruction, and everything else bad about Russia in 1968 when Erofeev wrote the story One thing I love about the Russians is their veiled references to their oppressive society being a postmodern work it probably goes without saying that I missedthan I should have because I suck at reading postmodern works sometimes I should be in therapy for this problem But I am trying, so shove it.I also want to give a shoutout to the fantastic cover art that was chosen, Self Portrait with Demons (James Ensor) Perfect fit. Recently, I drank beer with a friend whose native language is Arabic As our bottles clinked, I asked him if there was anything we could say in Arabic that would be appropriate, such as ‘cheers’, na zdorovya, etc “No”, he laughed, “it is prohibited!” I then asked if there was an Arabic word for ‘hangover.’ No, he said Not even some sort of impolite or forbidden word, I asked, or a word to describe people from other countries who’ve had too much alcohol, and what they experience when they wake up the next morning? No one who spoke Arabic ever observed such a thing and wanted to describe it? The closest thing, he told me, is a word that simply means ‘out of one’s mind’, which, from the perspective of a native English speaker, isn’t very close at all Yesterday I thought of this book, and I got to wondering how many words Russian has for ‘hangover.’ I know of one, bodoon, but I get the impression there may be others On the last page of my used copy of Moscow to the End of the Line, or MoskvaPetushki, there is written in pencil, under the questions “make a fig?” and “money to buy drinks?”, a “recipe” for a drink called “Tear of a Komsomol Girl”, a recipe that looks to me like it’s potentially fatal When I asked my Russian teacher about it, she said that people really drank things like this during the Soviet Union She also said the book is one of her favorites.I think I can understand why Along with A Confederacy of Dunces, it’s one of the few genuinely funny books I’ve read and like that book, also very sad A man, having recently been fired from his job, gets on a train in Moscow, intending to go to Petushki the end of the line He meets all sorts of characters on the train, real and imagined, including, inevitably, the devil, who demands that the man answer impossible and scatological riddles I don’t want to spoil anything, but as the book went along, and the man got closer to his destination, I got a clearer understanding of what Yerofeyev was trying to do and the sense of tragedy, of a life passing by in a haze, and the largescale tragedy of Communism, becameapparent The book is a little like a night of drinking heavily; everything at first seems enjoyable and humorous, then you start to feel depressed and vaguely ill, and realize you shouldn’t be urinating off the edge of the roof…and if you’ve really drunk too much, maybe you drift into some awful realm of the spirit like the one depicted in the last 20 or so pages Maybe there’s a word for that in Russian I don’t know much about Yerofeyev’s life, but I get the sense that he lived his book I watched a small part of a documentary about him, and when he was interviewed he was lying on a couch in his apartment, barely able to move, speaking through a hole in his throat I don’t know how old he was at the time, but the back cover of the book says that he lived only to 55 Moscow to the End of the Line and Walpurgis Night, or The Steps of the Commander (which I haven’t yet read) seem to be the only novels of his translated into English The back cover mentions two other titles with intriguing names, Annunciation and Notes of a Psychopath, but I don’t know if they’ve been translated. In this classic of Russian humor and social commentary, a fired cable fitter goes on a binge and hops a train to Petushki where his most beloved of trollops awaits On the way he bestows upon angels, fellow passengers, and the world at large a magnificent monologue on alcohol, politics, society, alcohol, philosophy, the pains of love, and, of course, alcohol One of the most *beautiful* books I've ever read, hands down Through a haze of alcohol, Soviet repression, and the hypnotic rhythm of a subway journey, Erofeev turns his drunken slapstick into brilliant satire, his own maudlin self pity into the lyrically transcendent.