Read The Clay Machine-Gun by Victor Pelevin Free Online
Book Title: The Clay Machine-Gun|
The author of the book: Victor Pelevin
Edition: Faber & Faber
Date of issue: August 21st 2002
ISBN 13: 9780571201266
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 33.40 MB
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Reader ratings: 4.4
Read full description of the books:
What does it feel like to be on a roller coaster?
It is hilarious, and it makes you feel giddy, dizzy, confused, almost weightless, and slightly nauseous and disoriented.
Well, I think “Roller Coaster” would have been a great title for this wondrous novel, even though I eventually managed to understand both the British publisher’s choice of “The Clay Machine Gun”, and the American title “Buddha’s Little Finger”. Basically, those two titles mean the same thing, just viewed from different perspectives. Yes? Clear? If not, don’t worry. This is my fourth Pelevin novel, and despite loving his writing immensely, I have only managed small glimpses of fleeting understanding so far.
Because that is his overarching topic. Who are we? How do we know that? Is there any proof for us that we are real? If so, what is reality and is there any meaning underneath the random nonsense we call life?
Trying to sum up the story must turn into a complete failure, as the moment it makes sense, I must have misunderstood something. But vaguely speaking, it is about a character who moves around in a shifting historical context, between the Russian revolution and the post-Soviet era in Russia. He meets different characters, all of which have a dreamlike appearance, and he also seems to be locked into a madhouse. He definitely has brutal nightmares, and is encouraged to write them down. They all revolve around the question of the place of an individual human being within his own consciousness and the universe, and feature a fictionalised Schwarzenegger, a Japanese businessman who convinces another man to commit seppuku, gangsters taking drugs and turning violent after finding the path to an “eternal high”, a failed love story, and a journey to a very peculiar kind of Underworld, where warriors wait to be reborn, some of them in less than perfect incarnations: as bulls for meat production, partly because that is part of their journey, and partly because of Russia’s need for meat. Metaphysical and practical aspects covered in one simple nightmare.
There is a red thread through the loosely knitted psychedelic adventure, though.
Human beings long for knowledge. They want to know where they come from, and understand their historical roots. They want to know how they are perceived by others, and how their own minds work. They want to be able to divide the world into reality and fiction, dream and conscious thought. The fact that they fail at their endeavour most of the time does not stop them from continuing to question their existence: through dialogue, action, literature, art and violence.
Even when they detect a nonsensical pattern, they prefer to continue living within it, rather than being in a void - a deliberate wordplay, as that is the main character’s name: Voyd.
When the confusion is almost unbearable, a fleeting moment of clarity feels like salvation:
“I experienced the same feeling I had several minutes earlier - I felt as though I were on the verge of understanding something extremely important, that any moment now the levers and cables of the mechanism that was concealed behind the veil of reality and made everything move would become visible. But this feeling passed, and the enormous white elephant was still standing there in front of us.”
He almost got to see what Pelevin called The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur in another of his mind-boggling stories, a huge machine generating a reality that the machine is part of itself.
It may not sound so, because I am inept at describing the roller coaster ride properly, but it is an incredibly funny book, poking at political and religious nonsense with a dark streak of sarcasm. The description of Russian Christianity in analogy to Stalinist reality is hilarious: the choice you have is between labour camp (hell, obviously), if you are a dissident free-thinker, or blind worship of Stalin (heaven, sort of) if you are an orthodox communist. The poor characters are left pondering on the lose-lose of their religious/political life.
Underneath the confusing plot, and the sarcastic jokes, there are philosophical questions and reflections on historical processes which I enjoyed a lot, often making me laugh out loud. I was quite grateful that I had read Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction quite recently, as it made me understand (ha!) what I didn’t know (eh?) on a theoretical level.
I doubt that I have made a convincing case for this novel, but that is entirely my fault, and I highly recommend it, along with his equally hilarious The Life of Insects, which looks at human identity from the angle of creepy crawler metamorphosis.
Please read it, despite me.
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"Victor Olegovich Pelevin is a Russian fiction writer. His books usually carry the outward conventions of the science fiction genre, but are used to construct involved, multi-layered postmodernist texts, fusing together elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies. Some critics relate his prose to the New Sincerity and New Realism literary movements." (Wikipedia)
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