Soviet-style whimsy with as close to a metaphysical gloss as Novy Mir probably can tolerate. Danilov is a Moscow musician, player of the viola in an orchestra. As this, he's a social scrounger, gossip, mini-expert, and somewhat free spirit. But how free and how much a spirit isn't even suspected: Danilov is also a demon who can fly, scheme, and mix things up. But he's an unsuccessful one (due to lack of attentiveness, largely) and likes mainly to zoom across the globe at will to meet girlfriends, watch the progress of the metamorphosis of a fellow demon into a mythic Spanish bull, do small good deeds, or entertain similiar-ilk nudnik demons given to sloth and sensuality and opinions of contemporary music. The publishers are comparing this first novel to Bulgakov and Gogol. Not close. Think instead of a Soviet counterpart to Mark Helprin or Steven Millhauser, and then something on the order of Orlov emerges. And the fragile moues, the fey sensibility, are helped not at all by the normally much sturdier translating of Bouis (""It was warm in Moscow, with sticky snowballs boys were menacing their female classmates, who had outgrown them by at least a hand crazy with sticky snowballs. . .""). Sticky says it.