This is a dark tale of contemporary Russia, with flashbacks to the past and to the lives of people who meet in a mental hospital. It's like listening to tales round a campfire in a dark, empty, windy wilderness. The stories are amazing, unsettling and their meaning is not always clear. If you can stay steady through the first major disruption on page 40, you will be gripped and ready to accept anything the writer can throw at you.
If Shurik typified the elite type of St. Petersburg mobster, then Kolyan was the standard Moscow hulkdrome whose appearance had been so brilliantly foretold by the futurists at the beginning of the century. He seemed to be nothing but an intersection of simple geometrical forms - spheres, cubes and pyramids - and his small streamlined head was reminiscent of that stone which according to the evangelist was discarded by the builders but nonetheless became the cornerstone in the foundation of the new Russian statehood.
'There' said Volodin, 'now the mushrooms have come on.'