Granta 64. Russia: The Wild East

I bought this book years ago and read only one or two stories in it. The two chapters that stand out now were the two that I read back then too. The first is called the Last 18 Drops and is about alcoholism in Russia, two things I know about. Did you know that if you finish a bottle of vodka and then sit it down on its side for a while, you’ll get 18 drops out of it? I’ve not tried it myself, but the author swears it’s true.

The other story that stood out was that of a mother seeking her son’s body after he’s killed in Chechnya. It brings that situation to life in a moving way.

The rest of the book was pretty forgettable. In fact it’s not that long since I finished it and the only other story that springs to mind is about the Romanovs, which was pretty dull, and a short story about a soldier coming home to his village and following a girl around like a lost sheep. Also pretty dull.