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Russian Debutante's Handbook

Average Rating 4
( 27 )
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(13)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Spongebob Squarepanovich

As a genre, the immigrant novel has seen many distinguished graduates but it has never run across a citizen like Vladimir Girshkin. This book should be called the misadventures of Spongebob Squarepanovich. It is a laugh-a-riot smash whose plot bounces along with the h...
As a genre, the immigrant novel has seen many distinguished graduates but it has never run across a citizen like Vladimir Girshkin. This book should be called the misadventures of Spongebob Squarepanovich. It is a laugh-a-riot smash whose plot bounces along with the hyperactive energy of a cartoon. Our hero seeks to soak up the approval of skeptical women, attempts to turn a Russian mobster's organization into an American Rotary Club, and in his spare time tries to fleece expatriates with a lame Ponzi scheme. The whole contraption collapses in a spectacular, James bondish flame-out, and our bumbling hero comes back home, like the prodigal son in the archetypal dragonslayer story, to his demanding Jewish moma. Each line of dialogue is an instant gut grab laugher. The characters will stick to your mind like east european Velcro. And the many improbable scenes are lined up like practice targets in a funnybone shooting gallery. The final score is: bull's eye, each and every one! Fresh off the boat, yes. ... but you sure deserve membership in the American comic classic club!

posted by Anonymous on January 26, 2003

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Interesting but...

It was definitely interesting all the escapades Vladimir gets himself into but it was definitely improbable. And the thing w/ Lenin's foot in the end was not needed in the storyline.

posted by Anonymous on November 15, 2003

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2003

    Spongebob Squarepanovich

    As a genre, the immigrant novel has seen many distinguished graduates but it has never run across a citizen like Vladimir Girshkin. This book should be called the misadventures of Spongebob Squarepanovich. It is a laugh-a-riot smash whose plot bounces along with the hyperactive energy of a cartoon. Our hero seeks to soak up the approval of skeptical women, attempts to turn a Russian mobster's organization into an American Rotary Club, and in his spare time tries to fleece expatriates with a lame Ponzi scheme. The whole contraption collapses in a spectacular, James bondish flame-out, and our bumbling hero comes back home, like the prodigal son in the archetypal dragonslayer story, to his demanding Jewish moma. Each line of dialogue is an instant gut grab laugher. The characters will stick to your mind like east european Velcro. And the many improbable scenes are lined up like practice targets in a funnybone shooting gallery. The final score is: bull's eye, each and every one! Fresh off the boat, yes. ... but you sure deserve membership in the American comic classic club!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2005

    Great Book!

    This is by far one of my favorite books! People who don't like this are probably looking for something more 'see spot run'...the story is smart and hilarious. I'd say Vladimir's adventures are more probable than the average American might imagine. Looking forward to more wonderful reads from this author.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2002

    Russian Debutante's Handbook

    The transformation of main character is very nice. An immigration clerk who seems fairly unambitious becomes a major player in Eastern European mob is a great tale. I was interested to continue reading, but not captivated. Maybe I thought the turn-around or about face was a bit too extreme, but I guess it is fiction and it is still a good story. All in all, very fast read, good character developement, a great deal of action, especially in the second half of the book. I am definately going to pass my copy along to a friend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    Pretty, Pretty, Pretty good!

    I did enjoy this book. The characters were real and you did see growth. However, sometimes it seemed like there was too much writing, not enough going on. The character growth was evident and funny, very very funny. As a Caribbean-American, it gave me insight to another world of immigration.

    The Best part about the book was his descriptive attention to detail which seemlessly created a vivid visual.

    The Worst part was sometimes the description went too far and it distracted from the task he was trying to complete.

    Overall, fun read! Recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2003

    Interesting but...

    It was definitely interesting all the escapades Vladimir gets himself into but it was definitely improbable. And the thing w/ Lenin's foot in the end was not needed in the storyline.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2003

    improbably funny

    This is the funniest first novel I've read in years. Maybe ever. I've been reading paragraphs aloud for days, and nobody's complained yet. It's impredictable and versatile; the humor alternates between really sly asides and broad knee-slappers--and, of course, this is a deeply felt novel too. There's a certain sort of sympathetic soul to the whole piece as well, that makes almost every joke feel as if it's been earned. Don't miss this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2002

    A great read

    This is a great, funny read, especially for fellow Russian Jews.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2002

    Russian Debutante's Handbook

    The story is a good pace and the changes are exciting (maybe not always fully believable). The character development is good and metamorphosis of the character from an immigration clerk to Eastern European con artist/ mobster is very good. It was a good read, kept me entertained and turning the pages. Although it was not completely engrossing, I recommend it and will pass it along to a friend and will probably read the next book by the author if there is one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2002

    You must read this wonderful novel.

    I really enjoyed reading this novel. It is dark, yet at the same time funny and exciting. I really loved the parts in which Shteyngart makes references to life in the former Soviet Union (ex. 'babushkas' and 'Road 66'). I especially enjoyed reading about Vladimir's entire journey from New York City to Prava. Though the novel is in the first person p.o.v., Shteyngart develops his characters very well. This book is definitely a page-turner.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2005

    Honestly...the worst book I've ever read

    This book can be described in one word: PAINFUL. Please, take my advice, and save your time. I would rather spend my time reading the entire English dictionary 10 times before I would read this book again.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003

    HATED IT!

    Our small book club read this, looking for a little humor -- and we all found NONE. Not one of us liked it and most of us couldn't even finish it... A huge disappointment, given the reviews. Don't waste your money.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted April 26, 2011

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    Posted January 21, 2011

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    Posted July 16, 2011

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    Posted April 26, 2012

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    Posted February 22, 2011

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    Posted May 23, 2012

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    Posted September 5, 2010

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    Posted December 29, 2008

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
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