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Snow White and Russian Red

Snow White and Russian Red

5.0 7
by Dorota Maslowska, Benjamin Paloff (Translator)

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“Nails” Robakoski is unraveling after his girlfriend Magda dumps him. A tracksuited slacker who spends most of his time doing little more than searching for his next line of speed and dreaming up conspiracy theories about the Polish economy, Nails ricochets from Magda, a doomed beauty who bewitches men, to Angela, a proselytizing vegetarian Goth, to


“Nails” Robakoski is unraveling after his girlfriend Magda dumps him. A tracksuited slacker who spends most of his time doing little more than searching for his next line of speed and dreaming up conspiracy theories about the Polish economy, Nails ricochets from Magda, a doomed beauty who bewitches men, to Angela, a proselytizing vegetarian Goth, to Natasha, a hellcat who tears his house apart looking for speed, to Ala, the nerdy economics-student girlfriend of the friend who stole Magda. Through it all, a xenophobic campaign against the proliferating Russian black market escalates, to the point where the citizens have to paint their houses in national colors and one of these girls will be crowned Miss No Russkies Day—or is that just in Nails’ fevered mind?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A hit in 21-year-old Maslowska's native Poland and elsewhere in Europe, this punishing successor to first-person "lad" novels like Trainspotting serves up its nastiness spiked with pitch-black humor. Young, paranoid Polish speed fiend Andrzej "Nails" Robakoski presents himself, in hyperbolic stream-of-speech, as an ignoble chump morbidly obsessed with death whose trampy blonde girlfriend Magda has just dumped him. Living at home with a working but absent mother and felonious "bro," Nails adheres to a busy schedule of snorting lines, scarfing "Bird Milkies" (or chocolate-covered marshmallows), text-messaging and denouncing both American consumerism and Russian bootlegged goods. After Magda, Nails-mindlessly nationalist, misogynist, homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic-turns to anorexic virgin Angela, a Goth girl in black whom he feeds drugs and sexually assaults. Eventually, Nails is incarcerated for stealing a soda and walkie-talkie from a local McDonald's. In a hokey metafictional twist, he encounters "Dorota Maslowska," a teenage writer working as a typist at the jail, and then, after a collision with a prison wall, enters a hallucinatory state not much different from his waking life and from which the rest of the novel emerges. Paloff's translation is pitch-perfectly speedy, and with political ironies resounding throughout, it's clear that Maslowska is not exactly endorsing her blank generation, though the claustrophobic narrative presents few avenues of escape. Agent, Maria Strarz-Kanska at Graal (Poland). (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
It's hard to believe that Maslowska's protagonist, the young, disaffected Polish slacker Andrzej "Nails" Robakowski, was conjured by a woman (and a 19-year-old at that); his voice is one of the most authentic to emerge in fiction in years. Here, he narrates the story of his life over a three-day period. This mostly involves women, speed, sickness, and slandering "Russkis" (who, as far as Nails is concerned, are waging some kind of war for Poland's soul). Nails's voice is chaotic and brilliantly idiosyncratic. He's paranoid, apocalyptic, and chock-full of gallows humor, spitting the kind of crazy and highly original lines you want to quote to your friends; a girl might be described as a "reticent chimney sweep," a "pro-family cunt," or "thirty-three kilos of steaming despair." The stream-of-consciousness style and confusing ending may frustrate some readers (a metafiction trick is even thrown in for good measure, but it's unclear how much it resolves). Not for everyone, this thoroughly unique debut (winner of Poland's Polityka Prize) is destined to become a cult classic. Highly recommended for large public libraries and all experimental and international fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/04.]-Tania Barnes, Library Journal Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Disaffected Polish youth rail against collapsed Communism and US materialism-in this blithely abrasive debut novel by a 19-year-old author. Protagonist-narrator Andrzej "Nails" Robakoski hatches unrealizable business schemes, imagines a "Polish-Russki War" for which he's the leading dissident spokesman, scores dope with his friends and sexual rivals, and mopes over the loss of his promiscuous, perpetually stoned pregnant girlfriend Magda. Along comes Angela, a posturing poetess who celebrates all that is "natural" (e.g., working for "animal emancipation and liberation"), while tripping with Nails, awkwardly surrendering her virginity, and vomiting a lot (oh, his dog dies, too). Next is Natasha, a strident ur-female who physically abuses Nails for hiding his "blow" from her, then Ala, a contemplative innocent who coyly deflects Nails's amorous advances, while casually mentioning that she's been reading this amazing memoir by a teenaged writer named Dorota Maslowska. After several fervent discussions with his penis (which he has named "George"), and a walk on the wild side with his oily friend Lefty, Nails gets into it with some surly motorcycle cops, continuing his downward progression into a fantasized denouement into which Maslowska reinserts another simulacrum of herself, with yawn-inducing metafictional results. You think the inflamed teenagers in this raucous unintentional farce are alienated? They're gray-flannel-suited conformists compared to readers who suffer 300 pages of this ego- and phallocentric rant. Yes, some of it is blackly funny-especially the pages in which Ala tries to elevate Nails from serial piggishness. But they're merely shallow pockets of sanity in a smotheringfabric of narrative and rhetorical overkill. Some Polish critics are on record as taking these jejeune effusions seriously. They should be beaten soundly with a large kielbasa. Agent: Maria Strarz-Kanska/Graal, Ltd., Warsaw

Product Details

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.46(w) x 8.24(h) x 0.78(d)

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Snow White and Russian Red 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author's Note: Thanks so much for all the story ideas! I don't know how to pick. All of them are super great, but my favorites are Raincloud's, which she posted at Eaglestar's Secret Chapter Two, and Tigerstar's, at kf first result. I'm already writing two stories on the NOOK, so I think I'll write these two on my Wattpad. I'll probably be starting Tigerstar's first, because Raincloud's needs some planning. Thanks again! CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Rainstar stared in dismay at the damage the foxes had delivered. The elder's den was all but denolished and two of the elders lay dead inside. All her warriors were injured, and the apprentices waited in the medicine den for orders from Moonbreeze, since they were helping her treat the injured cats. Then, as she watched the cats file into the medicine den, she realized two were missing, though she had seen them fighting earlier. "Tigerfang, where are Darkfur and Stormpaw?" Tigerfang looked up from where he was resting outside the medicine den. "Darkfur and Stormpaw? Aren't they here? I saw them fighting a..." He trailed off, looking around the camp for them. His eyes betrayed his surprise. "I don't know," he finished. "I'll ask some other warriors." Rainstar nodded. "Thank you." CRANEFEATHER'S POV: Riverclaw shuffled his paws. "I hope we can put this all behind us and become at least friends," he meowed. Cranefeather pondered this. Riverclaw seemed trustworthy and kind, but he had been lied to all his life, had been led to believe his parents were dead. He should have been happy that his father was alive, he knew. But he just felt... empty. Cranefeather decided that he would let his father to become his friend, but before he would allow it to become more than that (a father-son relationship), he would need to get to know Riverclaw better. "Okay," he meowed. Then he looked around. "Where's Shatteredpaw?" he asked. Riverclaw looked surprised. "She went hunting," he answered. Cranefreather tore through the trees, following Shatteredpaw's quickly fading scent trail. He found her cowering behind a bush, with... "Stormpaw? Darkfur?" he meowed in surprise. Stormpaw looked up. "Cranepaw?" he gasped. Shatteredpaw snapped, "Cranefeather," and stared at him hopelessly. "What are you doing here?" Cranefeather asked. Darkfur looked at him, his eyes betraying nothing. "Oh, we are just out for a stroll," he explained. "But how did you found us so fast?" Cranefeather and Shatteredpaw had made sure their camp was far away enough that no cat would find it easily. "We weren't looking for you," Darkfur meowed. Something in his eyes made Cranefeather not believe him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
In stumbling across this novel in my college campus bookstore, I found that everytime I picked it up to read (which I did at every opportunity) I would get lost in the rants of this character Nails, never too sure what exactly what was going on but savoring every minute of it. You get a chance to climb into this mans dingy, speed fried brain, and read his every thought, his every emotion and the jumbled mess that it has become over the years of abuse. Read this book, though it is a filthy dirty book of insanity, once finished, you may be confused but not disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Highly recommend this fast paced poetic story. Gritty and downright dirty at times. In the end Maslowska gets inside of your head and stirs you up in a way that makes you never forget her. It is sexy lit. Try to savor it.