Rating: 1.5 out of 3
As promised in my previous post, I will spend the month of August reading works by famed Soviet/Russian author, Viktor Astafyev. Astafyev (1924-2001) was born in the village of Ovsyanka. Now, If you want to read more about Astafyev's life, I recommend reading his cycle of autobiographical sketches, "The Last Bow". However, just very briefly here: Astafyev's Father was imprisoned for being a harmful element. His Mother drowned in an tragic boat accident in 1931. Astafyev was then raised by his grandparents until his Father's release from prison. Tragedy struck Astafyev again when his Father was hospitalized, leaving Astafyev homeless. After several months on the streets, Astafyev eventually ended up in an orphanage. As was the case with almost all Soviet youth of his age, Astafyev served during World War II. Astafyev started publishing his literary works in the 50's and met with notable success.
The first work by Astafyev that I'm going to discuss is "The Horse with a Pink Mane". This short story comes from the aforementioned "Last Bow" short story cycle. Its about one of the most memorable episodes in Astafyev's childhood; the events surrounding Astafyev's receipt of a much-beloved treat; a gingerbread horse with a pink mane. Now, if you like lyrical works say, for example, "Autumn in Taman" by Viktor Likhonosov, or even Aksakov's "The Childhood of Bagrov's Grandson", you'll love this tale. The story is predominantly a lyrical description of nature and country life in the village of Ovsyanka. I'm not that much of a fan of lyricism, so I found the bits of narrative about the 'wild' Levontyevsky family to be the most interesting parts of the tale.
I'm not going to say that I adored this short story, as it wasn't my cup of tea, but it could be interesting to readers who enjoy lyrical works about 20th century country life in Russia.