by & translated by
Email this review


Disaffected Polish youth rail against collapsed Communism and US materialism—in this blithely abrasive debut novel by a 19-year-old author.

Protagonist-narrator Andrzej “Nails” Robakoski hatches unrealizable business schemes, imagines a “Polish-Russki War” for which he’s the leading dissident spokesman, scores dope with his friends and sexual rivals, and mopes over the loss of his promiscuous, perpetually stoned pregnant girlfriend Magda. Along comes Angela, a posturing poetess who celebrates all that is “natural” (e.g., working for “animal emancipation and liberation”), while tripping with Nails, awkwardly surrendering her virginity, and vomiting a lot (oh, his dog dies, too). Next is Natasha, a strident ur-female who physically abuses Nails for hiding his “blow” from her, then Ala, a contemplative innocent who coyly deflects Nails’s amorous advances, while casually mentioning that she’s been reading this amazing memoir by a teenaged writer named Dorota Maslowska. After several fervent discussions with his penis (which he has named “George”), and a walk on the wild side with his oily friend Lefty, Nails gets into it with some surly motorcycle cops, continuing his downward progression into a fantasized dénouement into which Maslowska reinserts another simulacrum of herself, with yawn-inducing metafictional results. You think the inflamed teenagers in this raucous unintentional farce are alienated? They’re gray-flannel-suited conformists compared to readers who suffer 300 pages of this ego- and phallocentric rant. Yes, some of it is blackly funny—especially the pages in which Ala tries to elevate Nails from serial piggishness. But they’re merely shallow pockets of sanity in a smothering fabric of narrative and rhetorical overkill.

Some Polish critics are on record as taking these jejeune effusions seriously. They should be beaten soundly with a large kielbasa.

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-8021-7001-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Black Cat/Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2004