(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
In FUN to be RUSSIAN you may find the answers to all those niggling little questions you never knew you wanted to ask!
• Why do Russians tie fishing boats to their feet while camping?
• What German phrase do all Russian men know and when would they use it?
• How do you catch a bottle of vodka while fishing off your balcony?
• Why is it unwise to relieve yourself out the door of a Russian train at night?
• Find out which is stronger; an Al Qaeda head or a Japanese television?
• And, just why is it essential that your wife always wears white knickers while travelling?
Drink vodka during a consultation at the clinic, experience a fishing weekend with friends, spend a relaxing summer week at the country Dacha and see how a seaside vacation to Egypt can be unusually eventful in the right company. Enjoy reading and Na Zdorovie!
[Full disclosure: I received a free print copy from Theodor Rasputin in exchange for an honest review.]
In all honesty, I had some mixed feelings about Fun to Be Russian. On one hand, there were parts that were so funny I had to literally laugh out loud. On the other hand, this reads more like a joke book rather than an actual story. Once you get past the jokes, there really isn’t much of a plot or that much characterization.
The story obviously takes place in Russia where we meet Vadim and Julia, a husband and wife who are going to a family planning clinic. Once in the doctor’s office hilarity ensues as Vadim and the doctor exchange hilarious tales over some vodka. Essentially, the whole book is like this. No, it doesn’t all take place in a family planning clinic, but it is mainly characters telling each other stories without much action in between. Sure, Vadim has a little adventure with some strong medication and actually does something at the end of the book, but that’s about all that actually happens. The scenery changes a couple of times, but the characters are just essentially telling stories within a story.
My problem with this is that while it’s funny, it’s not necessarily fun to read in a linear manner. Such tales would have been better in a sort of joke book rather than Theodor Rasputin trying to tell them all in one book. It also doesn’t leave much room for characterization. Vadim comes across as a stereotypical Russian man, only really caring about drinking and the other characters are just one dimensional. There are no real motives behind their behavior other than the fact that they just want to drink and tell each other stories.
There are some proofreading errors, but they don’t really affect your ability to read Fun to Be Russian. Some of the humour is a little crude, so I’d definitely recommend it for adults only. However, the one redeeming feature of this is that it is actually hilarious. Theodor Rasputin can tell stories in a humorous manner, it’s just that trying to fit them all into a novella was not necessarily the best choice.
I give this book 2.5/5 stars.