Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Black Snow by Mikhail Bulgakov

Black Snow is one of those books that is easy to read but hard to pick up.  You know the type.  Fun, light, well-written, but for some reason you’re just not sucked in.  You look at it sitting on the nightstand, beckoning you, but you just groan and waste a little more time checking Facebook or hustling up another Words With Friends game.  Black Snow is a farce by Mikhail Bulgakov, writer of the brilliant The Master and Margarita and Heart of a DogBlack Snow is a fictionalized account of Bulgakov’s attempt to adapt his novel The White Guard for the stage at the Moscow Art Theater.  It’s clear that his experience was frustrating.  There are some funny parts, but it’s so absurd, and so many characters flit in and out of its pages, that it’s hard to care too much about the travails of Bulgakov’s alter ego Maxudov.  Without a doubt Bulgakov has many scores to settle, but perhaps the 1920s microscene squabbles of the Russian theater world don’t have the impact they should in 2014.  Bulgakov’s biggest target in Black Snow is none other than theater great Konstantin Stanislavski.  There’s something exciting about this feud and Bulgakov is merciless, treating Stanislavski like a fool. At the end of day, I wish Black Snow was more biting, but somehow it just seems silly. 

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