Saturday, January 23, 2016
Book Review: The Blizzard
5 Stars - Highly Recommended / The Next Best Book
Released: December 2015
Translated by: Jamey Gambrell
What better day to review Vladimir Sorokin's The Blizzard, as I sit here on the couch in the midst of our very own blizzard? Wrapped up in the relative warmth of a fuzzy blanket, hands cupping a mug of spiced tea, as the wind whips the ever falling snow back and forth beyond my front windows, it's easy to take for granted the bone-chilling, snot-freezing cold that our brave protagonist ventures out into in an attempt to save a small 19th century town from the grips of a terrifying zombie plague.
Doctor Garin holds the vaccine that will stop the epidemic from spreading and feels compelled to bully his way through the wicked snow storm, which currently has him stalled and horseless at a station house. After much shouting and cursing, the stationmaster is finally convinced to hook Garin up with Crouper, a local bread man with a fleet of partridge-sized ponies and a sled, who might be convinced to take the pushy doctor where he is determined to be.
Garin applies the same bossy tactics with Crouper, who reluctantly agrees to head out into the raging storm, against better judgment. A trip that, under normal circumstances, should take but a few hours slowly and painfully turns into a never ending battle of man vs. nature.
It's the kind of book where nothing really happens but everything is just told so perfectly that you really don't care. It's got just the right touch of the fantastical too. I'm calling it "soft apocalyptic fantastical fiction". The zombies, strangely, never make an appearance, but other odd and wonderous things do. The deeper into the storm we travel, the more fantastical and otherworldly their circumstances become and all the while our characters grow more and more suspended in this sort of timeless past-future, which adds to the overall awesomeness of the novel.
It's beautiful, relentless, and tenderly harsh.