moscow

The latest addition to my website is Benedict Erofeev‘s Москва — Петушки (UK: Moscow Circles; US: Moscow to the End of the Line). This is a hilarious satire about a man, called Benny Erofeev, who is trying to get to Petushki (about 70 kilometres from Moscow) to visit his girlfriend for their regular Friday visit. Benny’s problem – though he does not see it as a problem – is that he is a serious alcoholic and spends most of the book either drinking or passed out from too much drink. Though he regularly traverses Moscow, he has never yet found the Kremlin, but not for want of trying. He normally ends up at the Kursk railway station. He has just been sacked from his job of foreman of a team of cable layers at Sheremetevo International Airport, primarily because the men spend all their time drinking and playing poker. Benny had foolishly prepared charts of their drinking that had mistakenly been sent to headquarters. He has now managed to find the station, by chance, at least in part because he was still looking for the Kremlin. On the train we learn about the philosophy of hiccups and farting, how to make a cocktail using shampoo, nail varnish remover and insect repellent, how to avoid paying for a ticket and the finer points of Roman law and history. He does not make it to Petushki. Doubtless, the only way to survive the Soviet Union was to remain in a permanently drunken stupor and this was what not only Benny but pretty well everyone else in this book does. In doing so, he tells us a very funny story of a man and his drink.