Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The Hall of the Singing Caryatids by Victor Pelevin

"Lena blushed but went on singing as she raised her left leg, keeping it bent at the knee."

At a mere 96 pages, this is a rather short story and yet it is rather intriguing, despite being sold ( or perhaps because of) in a plastic wrap. Seriously there's nothing too shocking here ( or perhaps I'm hard to shock?). In any case this novella translated from its native Russian is a tale of a strange drug based upon the praying mantis. This could easily be an episode of Black Mirror  or The Twilight Zone  and also reminiscent of the adult, short stories of Roald Dahl.
Auditioning for the role of a singing geisha for privileged oligarchs, Lena can have no idea what she is really getting herself into. Services will be more than sexual and aided by a strange substance that will have unexpected side effects. Well, actually, I kind of guessed what the side effects would be, having long admired the praying mantis, not that I'd condone their violent behaviour.
However there is something satisfying about a tale where women are commodified as purely sexual objects and then are able to enact a bloody comeuppance.

4 out of 5, strike a pose. 

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