peteg's blog - noise - books - 2013 05 25 Womack LetsPutTheFutureBehindUs

Jack Womack: Let's Put the Future Behind Us

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In Red Plenty, Francis Spufford gestured to this book for an account of the rapacious 1990s in post-Soviet Russia. Being an airport novel it is nowhere as erudite, though sometimes the backhanded observations are as funny as the author intends them to be. We get the expected oligarchs, mafiosi, digs at Yeltsin and Brezhnev, the bling, the Moscow Barbies, the presumably-fictional "fred". At times he flicks the switch to Reservoir Dogs and is clearly angling for a movie deal. The plot twists become way too convenient, and with a decent edit it would have been fifty pages shorter and the better for it. I came to the end not really remembering the beginning and wondering why we were touring Sovietland in denouement.