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A School for Fools
A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
20 posts | 8 read | 17 to read
By turns lyrical and philosophical, witty and baffling, A School for Fools confounds all expectations of the novel. Here we find not one reliable narrator but two unreliable narrators: the young man who is a student at the school for fools and his double. What begins as a reverie (with frequent interruptions) comes to seem a sort of fairy-tale quest not for gold or marriage but for self-knowledge. The currents of consciousness running through the novel are passionate and profound. Memories of childhood summers at the dacha are contemporaneous with the present, the dead are alive, and the beloved is present in the wind. Here is a tale either of madness or of the life of the imagination in conversation with reason, straining at the limits of language; in the words of Vladimir Nabokov, an enchanting, tragic, and touching book.
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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merelybookish That's interesting to think about. @vivastory mentioned how the author wrote this knowing he couldn't publish it. So maybe he didn't censor himself at all. Maybe that is part of the excess - just writing with absolute abandon. 3w
vivastory There is the incident with Akatav being taken away for publishing an article about the insects living in a specific part of the plants. 3w
quietjenn I think the reluctance to “name names“ throughout is really indicative. 3w
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Leftcoastzen @quietjenn I agree , the reluctance to “name names “ was an element. 3w
Leftcoastzen @vivastory I found the insects living in plants & him getting taken away interesting.That science & literature can get you in trouble in this system.Now in our culture , they tweet & Facebook about” Alternative Facts “ 3w
sarahbarnes Yes to all of these observations. It seems like the exchange with the “author” at the end of the novel is a little bit of a statement about thumbing his nose at being censored - to the point about not intending to be published @vivastory @merelybookish 3w
batsy It's something I didn't consider too deeply so I appreciate all the thoughtful responses here. I like the idea that knowing in all likelihood he was to be censored, the author wrote with complete abandon. But it's also interesting that the fractured narrative in itself works as a kind of code, protecting the book from being interpreted in any one way. It's a book that defies censorship, in a sense, though I'm sure censors will always find a way! 3w
GatheringBooks I am grateful to this book club for enriching my understanding of books that simply are beyond me in content, message, meaning. Perhaps the utter incomprehensibility of the narrative is in itself an attempt to code an even more profound message to other spies that ordinary mortals are not ever meant to understand except for other Soviet spies or revolutionaries. 📚💗My facetious way of justifying my inability to understand what I just read. 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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vivastory The 2 selves of the narrator were speaking to one another, but they were def often addressing others: teachers, parents, Veta etc. 3w
quietjenn It felt mostly like a conversation with the two selves, even when they seemed to be addressing others, for most of the book. Like, there's only one of me, but I constantly have conversations with others in my head, and that's what this seemed like in a very protracted way (and with another personality engaging). 3w
sarahbarnes Agreed @quietjenn @vivastory - I think it was mostly a conversation with his two personalities or selves. I read a review that posited the narrator had schizophrenia. 3w
batsy I agree @quietjenn it was addressed to the self, but the self as multiple (the imaginary audience we have in our head comprising people past and present). 3w
GatheringBooks Hahahhaa. I had no idea really what I read, so not sure how to answer this question at all. I honestly felt it was an arguably-intelligent (a tad self-indulgent) narrative with too many allusions that needed to be explained through footnotes that removed me from the pleasure of the reading experience as a whole. A book with references that needed to be explained every page or so may definitely be more difficult than Ulysses(!). 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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vivastory I read several conflicting ideas about the titular institution. Some reviews made it out to be a facility for people with mental health conditions, others said that it was a state run facility for IDD individuals. My guess is that it was a catch all day center, not specializing in one specific type of care. What I found intriguing throughout the book is how the faculty would remark that they too belonged to the school for fools. (edited) 3w
merelybookish Well I took it to mean the students were all the misfits who dont fit into/behave in Soviet society. And no one really cares about them. But a lot of the book didn't seem to take place at the school. 3w
vivastory @merelybookish I think you're right, especially considering the comments made by the teachers 3w
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Leftcoastzen It seems the Soviets always tried to institutionalize, or assign to a work camp those who couldn‘t fall in line. 3w
quietjenn I agree. Despite that director of curriculum or whatever, there didn't seem to be a lot of educational philosophy behind the school, beyond “keep them occupied“ and out of the way of the productive members of society. Actually calling themselves - be they students or teachers - the School for Fools just felt like a bit of black comedy. 3w
vivastory @quietjenn The part about the slippers was interesting. It was arbitrary but I think that might have been Sokolov's point, that a lot of rules at institutions like school for fools are arbitrary. 3w
quietjenn @vivastory yes so many arbitrary rules in many institutions! The thing about the slippers that struck me was how they acted as a physical marker that sort of advertised their affiliation with the School. 3w
sarahbarnes It did seem to be an institution for people who don‘t “fit in,” whether due to mental illness or other reasons. And ironically I think the main character was actually highly intelligent…in some ways similar to the way we don‘t recognize different forms of intelligence here very well. Even if we don‘t always institutionalize. 3w
vivastory @sarahbarnes I agree with your point about the main character being very intelligent & I def see parallels here 3w
batsy @sarahbarnes The narrator's voice is very intelligent, I agree. There's both wisdom and curiosity. The school itself seemed to function more as a metaphor, as in a condition of mind more than anything else. As a criticism of a repressive social order. 3w
GatheringBooks Agree here with @batsy about the metaphorical aspect of the “school for fools” - this book just went way over my head, but the less I understand the more entertained I was - I would even read certain parts aloud to my husband because it was just so nonsensical and absurd - but perhaps there is a deeper more profound aspect to the absurdity that I failed to capture and frankly did not really care enough to understand. 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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In the Spring '83 issue of The Slavic & East European Journal, future translator Alexander Boguslawski writes, "Sokolov's novel is essentially...showing the possibilities & capacities of artistic imagination at work; yet it may also be considered a passionate outcry against the norms & practices of socialist realism..." Do you agree with Boguslawski's statement?

merelybookish Well I agree it's not socialist realism ? and it does seem to push the limits of how deeply you can be within one character's perspective to write a stream of consciousness coming from a character with schizophrenia. Nothing can be read as "fact". 3w
vivastory Absolutely. If I recall correctly Sokolov didn't even bother with publishing the novel after he'd written it because he knew that it would get him in too much trouble. 3w
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quietjenn Meh? I feel like that overstates and overrates it for me, but I understand how it could be viewed as such, given the context of when and where it was written. 3w
Leftcoastzen Sometimes I found myself thinking is this just an airing of the grievances dressed up in crazy clothes? 3w
batsy It reads like it's definitely a counter-argument against social realism politically and aesthetically, but I'm on the fence about what a passionate outcry means. Like I do wonder if the book is overrated precisely because social realism is automatically seen as a restrictive narrative form because it's a political project, while novels like A School for Fools is by default seen as groundbreaking even though it's largely incoherent (to me). 3w
GatheringBooks I am with @quietjenn here - an overreaching of incoherent ramblings that have been elevated to art/high-brow literature. Perhaps I simply am not patient nor smart enough to truly appreciate it - and felt that I wasted my time doing so. That being said, I still felt the compulsion to plod through regardless, because there were pockets of beauty here and there that I can grasp. The footnotes took me out of the reading experience though. 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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merelybookish I knew from the translator's intro that there were multiple narrators, although it didn't seem evident in the text to me till later when he started to distinguish between the engineer self and the botanist self. I think what helped me most was just trusting there was some kind of logic that would emerge. Certain things were repeated and eventually I pieced things together. Sort of. 3w
vivastory I think that it is narrated by multiple narrators. What makes it jarring is the switch from first person POV to a second person POV. This lent it a doppelganger feeling. Another interesting aspect is the lack of a “dominant“ personality that you typically find in books about multiple, or a split, personality. 3w
quietjenn I think multiple narrators. I initially skipped the translator's note, but some blurbs and other comments clued me in to expect it and I pretty quickly saw the back and forth of one self in dialogue with the other. My challenge was that, maybe because there wasn't a dominant self, the two didn't seem particularly different from one another. I don't even think that the botanist v. engineer self that @merelybookish mentions even really registered. 3w
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Leftcoastzen Sometimes I found the shifts difficult, I would think that I accidentally skipped something , I would go back & reread . I tried to not read it when I was tired !😁 3w
sarahbarnes I read a review that proposed the narrator had schizophrenia, so I was predisposed to thinking the multiple narrators are actually his different personalities. And I agree that the switches in POV was one of the things that made it such a challenging read. 3w
BarbaraBB I‘m sorry I can‘t participate since I didn‘t finish the book. I absolutely LOVE the illustrations you use. If they come close to the content of the book I should definitely give it another try 🤍 3w
batsy I kind of read it as multiple narrators, and because of the translator's intro I read it as the multiple selves. It all doesn't cohere into a proper narrative, though, but that's what made think that it was a fractured narrative reflecting the narrator's mental illness, so there were no easy threads or an overarching narrative to follow. 3w
GatheringBooks Half of the time, I have no idea what I was reading - which made me indifferent to whether there was a singular or multiple narrators - I just wanted to get it over and done with, like some form of required reading where I will not even get a grade or credit (lols). Love reading all your reflections here, though. As for mental illness, Neal Shusterman‘s “Challenger Deep” offers a more accessible, relatable opportunity to get into another‘s mind. 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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sarahbarnes Photographs used today are credited to Russian street photographer Alexander Petrosyan. 3w
merelybookish I can see the comparison to Ulysses, although years since I read it. But I guess both layer on subjective sights, sounds, smells, wordplay, etc. Although I think Ulysses is actually easier to understand. 😳 Because it has a more linear time frame (a day) whereas this one subverted any time line. If time & space are the two concepts that ground most novels, I guess this one was more rooted in space? But even that feels hard to say for sure. 🤣 3w
vivastory It took me a bit to find the rhythm of Sokolv's style, but once I did I really appreciated what he did . I read in a couple of reviews that there was a previous English translation which was largely panned because it failed to capture the linguistic intricacies. 3w
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vivastory I was unfamiliar with Petrosyan's work. Great choice! 3w
vivastory @merelybookish I have been intimidated to tackle Ulysses, but if it's easier than Sokolov's novel I feel a bit braver 😂 3w
Leftcoastzen I am a great fan of Ulysses & like @merelybookish think it‘s easier because of the linear time frame .I‘d seem to catch a wave so to speak with the writing & wordplay & be in awe of it . Sometimes I couldn‘t read it , my mind wanders off.love the photos! 3w
merelybookish @vivastory I'm sure you're up to th challenge! 😁 But you have a character walking around Dublin and so it has more structure than this book. I think. And when another voice takes over, it's clearly another voice. 3w
vivastory @Leftcoastzen Well, hearing you also say that it's easier has emboldened me to tackle it this year. 👍 3w
vivastory @merelybookish The narrative switches in Sokolov's novel were both really interesting & really jarring/frustrating. 3w
merelybookish @vivastory Bloomsday is June 16th 😀 3w
vivastory @merelybookish Just in time after I finish Moby Dick (I started that today) 🙃 3w
quietjenn I can certainly see the comparisons with Ulysses, although I agree with @merelybookish and @Leftcoastzen that the linearity of that book makes it easier to grasp and follow, in many ways. But with both books, I found them most pleasurable when I a) “just went with it“ and didn't try to make sense of everything and b) accepted that there were a billion allusions and references I wasn't getting. 😆 3w
quietjenn @sarahbarnes I love these images! 3w
Leftcoastzen @vivastory I read Moby Dick recently, was surprised it was so funny in spots . 3w
vivastory @Leftcoastzen I'm planning on reading at least 50 pages per day, but yes! I couldn't agree more. The first night that Ishmael is in the tavern & the innkeeper starts sanding down the bench for him to sleep on...that made me chuckle 3w
sarahbarnes I read Ulysses a long time ago, and I don‘t know that I would compare these reading experiences. 3w
LeahBergen I didn‘t read along with the group this month as I sampled a bit of the book and thought it wasn‘t for me. I‘m certainly enjoying reading through these discussion questions, though! “Ulysses is easier”??? 😆😆 (edited) 3w
batsy I agree @merelybookish Ulysses was "easier", in a way ? And yes @quietjenn this book worked for me best when I just went along for the ride without thinking too much. I definitely missed a lot of references, for sure. @vivastory I think you'd love Ulysses but it did help that I read it the first time during a two-semester seminar course, so we had lots and lots of supplementary reading material plus discussions ? 3w
batsy I love the images you've used! I think I can agree with it being called poetry, it feels like prose poetry with a lot of freewheeling allusions and connections that feels like layers of metaphor (as in the reader has to work to find out the meaning, but it also works as a "surface" reading in terms of just enjoying the language...there was a lot of beautiful sentences, I thought.) 3w
sarahbarnes @LeahBergen yes, definitely a ringing endorsement of the book. 😂😂 3w
GatheringBooks Haven‘t read ulysses yet - too daunting for me, plus it requires a measure of commitment I don‘t think I will be able to provide. There were poetic elements in this novel for sure, in its cryptic, coded, inaccessible form; not the emotion, affective, engaging nature of poetry that‘s for sure - at least for me. Sorry to be late to this party. 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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This is definitely not a book I would've picked up or finished without #nyrbbookclub, but I'm glad I read it. There's some wonderful turn of phrase and wordplay and it was best when I could immerse myself and just go with it. That said, I could've done with more narrative and/or more bits like Now, when we weren't cloistered in the protagonist's head. It was challenging much of the time and I definitely didn't get all the references 😏🤷‍♀️

BarbaraBB Kudos for finishing 🙌 3w
vivastory It's def one that I will be reading again with the hopes of picking up on more of the references 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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“A book is the best gift, everything best in me I owe to books, book after book, cherish books-they ennoble and refine one's taste, you look in a book but see gobbledygook, a book is man's best friend, it enhances interiors, exteriors, and fox terriers.“
An epitaph from one of my favorite Poe stories “William Wilson“ keyed me in to the narrative ambiguities that might be at work in Sokolov's novel. As the back cover states, “Here we find not one

vivastory reliable narrator but two unreliable narrators.“ One challenging aspect of the work is the lack of identifying speech indicators & frequent narrative switches. The latter has an interesting effect in terms of our main character, in that it does tend to give him the aspect of a doppelganger when it segues from a first person POV to free indirect speech in the second person. This is jarring, to say the least.
I have read a couple of online reviews
vivastory of School for Fools that were a bit dismissive, stating that it was a standard unreliable narrator novel, noteworthy only for the fact that it was pub. in the 70s. I disagree. One remarkable aspect of the book is the wordplay (follytics & Department of Crapucation comes to mind) & textual allusions. This is the first novel that #NYRBBookClub has read to have featured extensive footnotes citing the authors mentioned. There were even a couple that 3w
vivastory were not cited, as towards the end where he alludes to the Mayakosky's, “Could you play right to the finish a nocturne on a drainpipe flute?“ The cultural references, the linguistic vibrancy & the nod towards Nabokov in the symbolism of the butterflies made School for Fools a more life affirming novel than one usually gets about a fractured psyche in a repressive state. As always, looking forward to the discussion. @sarahbarnes 3w
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sarahbarnes Love your review! I‘m glad you enjoyed it. 3w
BarbaraBB I‘m in awe Scott of what you took away from it! 3w
batsy Fantastic review! I think the wordplay aspect would have been underrated by most reviewers; it really seems that he was pulling off Joycean fears. It must hit different too for people reading it in Russian. 3w
batsy *feats, not fears 😅 3w
vivastory @sarahbarnes Thanks! I think I told you this, but I had not heard of it before you nominated it 3w
vivastory @BarbaraBB I had a few false starts it. It's a demanding read, for sure but I think worthwhile 3w
vivastory @batsy Thanks! Fears works, too 🤣 I read in a few reviews that this is the second English translation. The first one seems to have failed to capture the neologisms etc. I can only imagine what it'd be like in the original. 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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A so-so rating doesn't feel fair, because it suggests this book is mediocre when it's not. I didn't go with a pick because I didn't quite enjoy it. I went through it. I sort of lived with the novel. I usually tend to enjoy the weird, disconcerting novels written in stream of consciousness, featuring fractured narratives, & this one has plenty of sentences that are profound, wry, clever, & funny. Yet I found myself wanting it to be over sooner.

batsy I was alternately bored/frustrated & captivated. Maybe I would feel differently about it had I read it at a time when I could read it almost all in one go, in a dream state, without having to stop & start. I agree with @merelybookish in that I appreciate that it was written in response to socialist realism, & as such was staking a claim in art & aesthetics as a counterpoint to the dominant ideology. #NYRBBookClub @sarahbarnes @vivastory 3w
Emilymdxn I‘d love to join in with nyrb book club! Is there someone who could tag me in posts about it and let me know what the next read is? 3w
batsy @Emilymdxn Yes, @vivastory is our coordinator and we can start tagging you in discussions from the month you want to join 🙂 For May, we're reading this 3w
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batsy @Emilymdxn This is what we're reading in June 3w
Emilymdxn Thanks @batsy and @vivastory - I‘ll get reading basic black with pearls! 3w
batsy @Emilymdxn No worries! Our discussions usually take place on the last Sunday of the month (or the first Sunday of the following month depending on schedules). 3w
merelybookish I think our experiences of reading this were similar. And I also feel unqualified to "rate" it. Initially I gave it 2 ⭐s on GR but that felt unfair since who am I to judge this book?! (So I just left it blank.) 3w
batsy @merelybookish I left it blank for the same reason! (I was initially going to give it 2 stars, as well 👯‍♀️) 3w
Graywacke Your thoughtful review again makes me want to join these nyrb group reads (even if you were mixed on the book). Noting those next two titles. 3w
batsy @Graywacke Yes, please do join in if you feel like it! I love the #nyrbbookclub and our discussions 🙂 3w
sarahbarnes I couldn‘t have said it better myself! I think I‘m glad I read it, but it was a more strenuous experience than I thought it would be, even though I too usually like these types of narratives. 3w
batsy @sarahbarnes Thank you! I'm glad I stuck with it, in a way, but yes I feel confused about why I didn't like it more 😆 3w
vivastory @Emilymdxn I'm looking forward to your thoughts on the book 👏 3w
vivastory @Graywacke Yes, please join! Our group started a few years ago & it is still such a joy 3w
vivastory I think that I might have liked this one more than most, but I will say I had a few false starts with this. I picked it up a few times earlier this month & could only read a few minutes before I had to switch it for something not quite as demanding. Once I was able to devote my attention to it, I really enjoyed it. There were def aspects that went over my head but I have already reread a few passages. Great review! 3w
batsy @vivastory Thank you! It does seem like a book that would have to be read with very little breaks in-between to get into the flow of it. 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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There is a method to this madness along with wordplay, allusions, digressions, repetitions galore. Because what is time after all? And what is sanity? OccasionalIy, I fell into the rhythms and followed the threads (Who me? Yes me!) Other me (what there's two?) got frustrated, irritated, and bored. I absolutely believe this is a work of genius AND I absolutely believe most of it went over my head. (But which head?) 😂 Definitely one to discuss!!

merelybookish As happens sometimes when I read works in translation, I was very aware of how my ignorance of culture that produced this book affected my ability to understand it. This writer was responding to something and while I *know* it was social realism, that still wasn't enough to fully appreciate what that meant and what he was doing. 3w
vivastory I love this review 👏 Yes, definitely one you have to be in the right headspace for. And, I think a good discussion book. Despite being plotless. Interesting that both of the Russian novels that we read in our group this year were at least in part a response to social realism, albeit in two different directions. 3w
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merelybookish @vivastory Yes, The Slynx did come to mind as I read this. They are different for sure but some overlap as well. And I felt adrift and a bit clueless reading both of them. 3w
GingerAntics Oh my. It‘s quite philosophical from the sounds of it. 3w
merelybookish @GingerAntics The narrator has schizophrenia (I think) and all storytelling conventions are pretty much chucked. There is a philosophy driving the aesthetic but the experience of reading isn't heady so much as disorienting and destabilizing. 3w
arubabookwoman Great review! 3w
GingerAntics @merelybookish that does not sound pleasant! Congratulations on getting through that mine field. 3w
batsy I love this review! ❤️ The two mes had a similar response 😆 3w
sarahbarnes Love this review - perfect. 😂 And I agree. So many times I was lost, and it was a strenuous read from start to finish, but I think I‘m glad I hung in there until the end. Gave me a lot to think about. 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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#NYRBBookClub What did I just read now? 😄At times, lyrical & compelling.Sometimes funny & confusing. Overall , I liked it. It put my brain in the mixmaster! Looking forward to the discussion!

sarahbarnes I‘m glad you liked it! 4w
batsy Brain in the mixmaster! I like that 😆 Feel the same. 4w
Leftcoastzen @batsy sometimes I had to backtrack & read a section again , my brain in a whirl!😁 4w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov

I won't be able to join our #NYRB Book Club discussion this week, but pictured is my review from when I read the book a number of years ago. Several members have commented on the difficulty of figuring out what was going on, and I found the intro to my edition very helpful. @batsy @BarbaraBB @sarahbarnes @vivastory ETA For some reason the pictures of my review is not posting. I will try to type it into the comments below:

arubabookwoman My review: To describe this book, I can do no better than to quote this passage from the introduction: 'A School for Fools is a journey through the mental landscape of a nameless, schizophrenic adolescent which he relates with the assistance of an author figure who may be the boy's older self. Through the kaleidoscopic prison of the teenager's schizoid mind, we share his bizarre perceptions and attempts to come to terms with the surrounding world. 4w
arubabookwoman The boy, who refers to himself as 'we', perceives himself and several other characters as two distinct but related persons, each with his or her own name. Much of the narrative is interior dialogue between the two halves of the boy's mind, or interior monologues ostensibly directed toward often unidentified characters. Nor can the boy perceive time, or events in time, in any fixed order; past, present, and future are random and .... 4w
arubabookwoman ...intermixed. These aberrations determine the unorthodox form of the novella. There is, in the ordinary sense, no plot, but rather an ever swirling verbal collage." My review then quoted the opening part of the first paragraph of the book, and read in the light of the above--that it is a dialogue--it sort of became understandable, My review ended with the following: 4w
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arubabookwoman [U]nderstanding that the narrative is primarily an interior dialogue between the two characters the narrator believes himself to be, the novel became a little easier to comprehend. While I think I understood substantial sections of the book, there were still many parts that went over my head. However, I still enjoyed the book, and the journey it took me on. I would recommend the book if you enjoy unconventional, difficult books, and... 4w
arubabookwoman ...you don't mind being puzzled by what you've read when you finish the book. 4w
sarahbarnes Thank you for posting this! I will say that I also enjoyed the book although I didn‘t fully understand what was happening at times. And I do love a Russian unreliable narrator and this book was a great example of that. 4w
vivastory Thank you so much for taking the time to post this! This is helpful, for sure. I typically avoid the introductions until after I finish the book. But I find it helpful to read them beforehand if I feel lost. 4w
BarbaraBB Thank you so much Deborah, it is very helpful and makes me understand better what the author means to do. 4w
batsy Thank you for sharing your review! I'm in the 3rd section now and I appreciate the bit about it being a dialogue between selves/characters. I wonder if a key part of this book is just "letting go" the need to understand or for things to make sense and instead just succumb to the wacky journey. (The notes at the end are also really interesting for all of the layers and allusions, metaphors and wordplay... That I'd definitely otherwise miss out on) 4w
merelybookish Thanks for sharing this! I'm about 40% in and finding it hard. If I get into a rhythm, I'm okay and I start seeing the repetition of images,.etc. but if I lose that, I feel lost again. But plan to soldier on! 4w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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Page after page of stream of consciousness without any break or paragraph… it was hard to keep up and then I didn‘t even want to any longer. I am sorry Sarah and Scott and the rest of my #NYRBBookClub squad but my mind can‘t handle it at the moment 🤷🏻‍♀️

LeahBergen I read an excerpt from this before buying it and thought it wasn‘t my sort of read either. 😬 4w
DivineDiana Stream of consciousness does not appeal to me as well. 🤷🏼‍♀️ 4w
arubabookwoman I read it several years ago and was totally lost in the beginning. Before bailing I read the intro (not sure if it was a NYRB edition), which explained what the author was doing/ehat was going on, & after that I was able to follow what I was reading. 4w
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sarahbarnes No worries at all. I will say that the style changes after the first part and for me it got easier to follow. But it was way more of a challenge to read than I expected it to be! 4w
batsy I was thinking about bailing because this is also not a good time for me to read this! Lots going on in life and super hard to focus on this style. But I'll give the suggestion by @arubabookwoman a go tonight & read the intro in the NYRB edition to see if I feel like I might soldier on 😁 4w
BarbaraBB @batsy It is very helpful indeed what @arubabookwoman suggests. Let me know what you think when you‘ve read it! (edited) 4w
batsy @BarbaraBB @arubabookwoman It's a brief translator's note in the NYRB, but yes it is quite enticing and makes me think I'll carry on for now and see where this leads... 🙂 4w
sarahbarnes I totally get it! It was a way more strenuous read than I expected it to be and I don‘t think I liked it for the most part, although parts of it were interesting. 3w
BarbaraBB @sarahbarnes I am sorry I bailed but I wasn‘t in the right mood for it 🤷🏻‍♀️ 3w
sarahbarnes Don‘t be sorry! To be honest I‘m not sure I would‘ve finished it if I didn‘t feel like I had to. 😂 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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Started the #NYRBbookclub pick. 🤨🤯🤔 It's a bit intense? 🤣 And one way to subvert the style of Soviet social realism. And definitely a good one to discuss. 😅
@vivastory @sarahbarnes

sarahbarnes @merelybookish Intense is one way to describe it 😂 I‘ll definitely be interested to discuss it! 1mo
merelybookish @sarahbarnes Have you finished it? 1mo
sarahbarnes @merelybookish I did. Making it through the first part was rough; it got better after that. (edited) 1mo
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merelybookish @sarahbarnes ok. That's good to hear! I am still in the first section. 1mo
BarbaraBB I‘m about to start too. 1mo
merelybookish @BarbaraBB Good luck! 😅 1mo
BarbaraBB Sounds if I might need it 😁 1mo
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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BarbaraBB Yay! I‘ll read it next week. Looking forward to it! 1mo
vivastory @BarbaraBB I'm looking forward to your thoughts on it! 1mo
sarahbarnes It‘s definitely unique so far! Not sure what we signed up for. 😂 1mo
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vivastory @sarahbarnes Now I'm intrigued! 🤣 1mo
batsy I ordered it over a month ago and it still hasn't arrived! Here's hoping it arrives by early next week so I can squeeze it in before the discussion🤞🏾(Basic Black with Pearls, which I ordered later, has already arrived though...) 1mo
vivastory @batsy I hope it arrives soon! If for some reason you can't make the discussion, please feel free to tag me when you do read it. I'm always happy to discuss the NYRB selections even if you read it later 1mo
batsy @vivastory Just in time: it arrived in the post this afternoon! Hooray 😁 1mo
Billypar I've been a little absent from Litsy recently: my father passed away on Tuesday after a tough last few months of setbacks related to his cancer treatment. I didn't read School for Fools, but the last two monthly picks have been a welcome distraction even though I couldn't finish in time for the discussions. I really enjoy this club and I'm looking forward to resuming participation in the months ahead! 3w
vivastory @Billypar I'm so sorry to hear that 💔 A few days ago marked a year since my father passed & it's still hard at times. School for Fools is a pretty demanding read, but I think it's worthwhile. Just a heads up, you will be up next for nominations for the July selection. No rush though. Take care of yourself. 3w
Billypar Thanks Scott! Hope you have a good discussion tomorrow: the reviews have me intrigued. As for July, I think I actually have my picks already because I still want to read the two that didn't get picked the last time around and I have a third one in mind. I'll post them on Monday if that works. 3w
vivastory @Billypar That works! I bought one of your nominees in a NYRB flash sale a few months ago. Looking forward to it! 3w
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion for Turtle Diary & thanks to @readordierachel for co-hosting. Join @sarahbarnes & I later this month as we discuss Sokolov's novel. @batsy you are up next for nominations. Looking forward to your selections for June! #NYRBBookClub

batsy Thanks for letting me know! I'll get to it asap :) 2mo
LeahBergen @batsy Ooo, can‘t wait! 👏👏 2mo
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tsarin Hey everyone! I have created a group chat on telegram for book lovers. This group is open to all fellow readers or anyone looking to become a reader. Feel free to join if you wanna discuss books, recommend new books to others or simply talk about your favorite books. Here's the link:
Sapphire I won‘t be with you for the April discussion. I am already reading for May and look forward to that date and seeing what you all come up with for June. I am still trying to locate your Jan read (Into the Freud archives) your discussion looked so fun and that is how I found you. It is proven a harder title to find. 1mo
vivastory @Sapphire I look forward to you joining us in May! Into the Freud Archives is definitely worth seeking out. I need to read more of Malcolm's work. 1mo
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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batsy Looking forward! 3mo
vivastory These all sounded good. Looking forward to reading this one & co-hosting with you! 3mo
Liz_M Oh good, the one I forgot to vote for won. 😁 3mo
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youneverarrived Looking forward to it 😁 3mo
BarbaraBB Thanks Sarah! A great choice! 3mo
LeahBergen I‘m looking forward to it! 3mo
emilyhaldi Sorry I missed voting 🙃 sounds like a good pick! 3mo
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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Leftcoastzen Wow great selections 3mo
vivastory Thanks for posting! My vote is also for 3mo
LeahBergen Oh, good choices! Hmm, I‘ll vote for 3mo
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merelybookish These all sound delightfully weird! 😀 I'm going with 3mo
youneverarrived These all sound so good! Tough choice but I‘ll go with 3mo
readordierachel All sound great! I'm going to vote for 3mo
quietjenn These all sound interesting, but I'm going to vote for 3mo
arubabookwoman I've read School For Fools (very weird), so I vote for #WitchGrass. 3mo
Billypar I loved Invention of Morel - it was very memorable. I'm going to go with 3mo
batsy Fun! I vote for 3mo
GatheringBooks Oooh! I will vote for the one i already own 3mo
BarbaraBB Great choices! I vote for 3mo
sprainedbrain Love these selections. I will vote for 3mo
saresmoore Great picks! If it‘s not too late, my vote goes to 3mo
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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#rockinmay day 22 - #paperbackwriter

Have had just as many middling-to-good reads from #nyrb as I have genuinely great ones, but I'll always be drawn to these stately #paperbacks . Call it the allure of "collection prestige" (see also: Criterion Collection).

Cinfhen Nice collection 💚 5y
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A School for Fools | Sasha Sokolov
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If you're a fan of strange narration, sentences which turn and run like the Volga River, and punning neologisms (all in under 250 pages) you'll have fun reading this. The translation by Alexander Boguslawski is miraculous in itself. Another great book from the NYRB classics. -Chris

ErickaS_Flyleafunfurled Sounds perfect! 6y
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