Cover image for The naked pioneer girl
Title:
The naked pioneer girl
Author:
Kononov, Mikhail.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Golai͡a pionerka. English
Publication Information:
London : Serpent's Tail, 2004.
Physical Description:
250 pages ; 20 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781852428358
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Singing 'Rio Rita' 15 year old Mucha trudges along the road to her execution. But much more than death Mucha fears expulsion from the Collective in which she fills a real and useful part. The comrades come to her when they need warmth and tenderness and she's happy in this role. (Although someone really should tell Stalin or Hitler that they need to make knickers with better elastic ) During the siege of Leningrad, Mucha takes flight over her beloved city. She sees Stalin sitting on a red star on top of the Kremlin, smoking his pipe and drinking tea and wondering what further anguish he can inflict on his people. The Naked Pioneer Girl is a searing indictment of war and a devastating look at the role of the Russian army during WW2.


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this sendup of the heroic literature of Stalin's Soviet Union-"a breathtaking battle piece and erotic extravaganza in eight positively vulcanic-vulvaic chapters," as the epigraph has it-Mikhail Kononov employs every figure of speech imaginable to recount the adventures of Young Pioneer Maria Mukhina, or Midge. In The Naked Pioneer Girl, Midge valiantly services Stalin's troops during WWII and flies naked in the skies over Leningrad at night, terrorizing Hitler's soldiers. Kononov's clotted prose and ironic references will be hard for U.S. readers to navigate, despite Andrew Bromfield's resourceful translation. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Though first-time novelist Kononov recounts the adventures of a novel character named Masha Mukhina, an underage World War II-era Pioneer (i.e., a member of the Communist youth organization), he's covering familiar ground-the personal and societal cost of war. Masha provides physical comfort to all the officers in her regiment, and her sexual activity is described ad nauseam, which detracts from some of the book's stronger passages, e.g., Stalin's actually directing the 900-day siege of Leningrad while sitting atop a red star in the Kremlin. When Masha is not servicing her officers, she is dreaming that she becomes "Seagull" and flies superhero-style over the skies of Leningrad to save her country. While Russian literature is no stranger to the fantastic and the absurd (Mikhail Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita; Viktor Pelevin's Omon Ra), this book doesn't take flight as its main character does. Readers not offended by the explicit sexual content itself will likely grow frustrated by its incessancy, as it does not affect Masha much. Not recommended.-Heather Wright, AWBERC Lib., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cincinnati (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

The Naked Pioneer Girl by Mikhail KononovLeadtext: CHAPTER ONEIn which general Zukov himself, the sweet darling, proposes a living Midge for a posthumous Order of Hero of the Soviet Union.Brightly whistling the catchy tune of "Rio-Rita", without bothering to wipe away her sticky tears, Midge trudged along to her execution down the familiar German rammed-earth road to the village of Shisyaevo, where Smersh*-with-the-Portrait was waiting for her.Couldn't tempt any of that lot down to the front even with a tasty loaf, the egotists, every one of them playing the big von-Baron, literally. Setting up their own selfish interests against the collective, worse than any peasant farmer. And all because of his high and mighty lordship devoted trench-soldiers had to waste their time wandering distances like this on fool's errands. Not even the chance of a dance would have got her plodding this far, let alone some rotten old shooting. And it still wasn't guaranteed for certain to start with. He only needed to get some piss-stupid idea into his head - which was more than likely with his lot - and he'd decide not to waste a slug on a miserable beggar like Midge, just give her a good tongue-lashing and send her off with a knee up the backside. That'd be a turn-up, eh? Might as well string herself up on the first stick of wood after that. Then all the excitement would just have been a rotten waste of time. It wasn't likely, mind you. But you could never tell what side the freak had got out of bed on. If it was the left, he'd chew you out for a couple of hours, then give you a clip round the back of the head - and aufwiedersehen. And how could you look your regimental mates in the eye after that? They'd given her a send-off for a genuine, honest-to-goodness execution, the whole company had pulled together for Midge, done it right, filled her pockets up to the top with sunflower seeds, and stuffed them with sugar lumps, and someone had stuck some captured biscuits and spare knickers down the front of her jacket just in case, and then, oopsa-daisy, Midge goes and turns up without so much as a scratch on her - take me back lads, just like the old times. Never once in a whole two years had she demonstrated that kind of lack of political awareness, never once put the collective on the spot like that. There she was day after day trying to keep everything squeaky clean, always trying to justify their trust, because everyone knew what a bad effect undesirable cock-ups had, even though she might not really be to blame for anything at all. And from that point of view you never knew which way to spread the straw for these rear-line rats, they were always trying to trip the class-conscious soldiers up, every step they took. And what's more, there was no comeback against any comrade who cut loose, especially in front-line zone conditions. Out here Smersh was tsar and god, top of the heap. And they weren't ashamed to make the most of it, driving folks this way and that, anything to avoid getting up off their own déclassé backsides and facing the bullets. What was General Zukov thinking about at all? If he got in touch at night, she had to brief him, so he could analyse the question concerned properly. And here she was soaked through from all this pointless walking of theirs, bloody hell, she was so angry she could burst!But then, that still wasn't the thing she was most afraid of - getting executed or even having to stand through some deadly boring tongue-lashing - she could put up with that all right. But if Smersh-with-the Portrait decided to check out her papers, everything was shot to hell. He'd spot a fake straight away. And then, of course, he'd tie her in knots and start picking her to pieces, set her head spinning so fast, before she knew what was happening she'd get cold feet and break, like some rotten squealer. He'd wheedle it out of her that she was still just a kid, only fifteen, and then she'd be for the high jump, for certain. No discussions, they'd just pack her off back to the rear in the first truck going that way, like some greenhorn school-kid - it was terrible to think of it, she'd never outlive the disgrace of it, and then there was the moral trauma. This was her second year living at the front line, after all, and she'd only just started feeling like a real human being, a member of the collective. She'd got used to people, and they were getting to be nice to her too, they believed she wouldn't let them down, that she'd provide all the support she could if an officer needed warmth and female affection. And what's more, they were doing their best to show her some consideration as well - they were world-class lads, a really choice bunch. So choice that sometimes she could have up to two dozen spare pairs of knickers stashed away in her kit bag. It sometimes made her think that even after the victory she'd never wear them all out. Although from a practical point of view, of course, it was naïve to think like that. Sometimes during redeployment, when the ranks were swelled by reinforcements, she could change up to three pairs a week. But then the only reason for that was the elastic. That was the whole problem: industry was producing elastic that wasn't strong enough - our side and the Germans, we both had the same problem. Somehow they just couldn't get to grips with the question and sort it out. It obviously hadn't been properly planned for front-line conditions yet, they hadn't really geared that area up for war. Someone ought to drop a hint to Stalin about it, or at least to Hitler. All those marshals probably never thought about anything but canons and planes, but if you happened to be a girl you had to juggle the whole lot of them the best way you could, grip the broken ends in your teeth if you liked, and go wandering around like some crazy woman with shell-shock, pioneer's honour!On the other hand, it was better to fight without any knickers at all - begging your pardon - for a hundred years than spend the whole war living it up in the rear, like some high-class deserter, hiding behind her granny's skirts. "Ma-sha, oh Masha! Quick, drink this nice warm milk with the skin on it! Drop that yoke, I'll fetch the water myself, you've got weak lungs, if you're not careful your 'berculosis will come back..." She'd be damned if she was going to go choking on boiled milk and guzzling fish oil - better to be shot every day of the week! Only bags, of course, on one condition. Not out in the sticks somewhere, to give the rear-line rats a good laugh, but right here where the action was, in the glorious machinegun company, in the bosom of her own beloved, close-knit collective. When she started thinking how they'd all feel for her, the entire company to a man and every soldier individually - of course they would, after all, they all knew she was innocent, they hadn't even found any body, or any evidence against Midgy, so they'd all listen to the sentence with their heads hanging, and Midge would be standing out alone in front of the company, where everyone could see her, like an Honoured Actress up on the stage. And everyone would try to look into her eyes and give her a wink - to keep up their comrade-in-battle's spirits at the crucial moment. When she started thinking about that, even now it brought tears to her eyes. Although the question of the execution still hadn't been decided yet. But for happiness like that - to merge in one mighty surge of feeling with the entire red-banner collective, take your nine grams of lead right there in front of your tried and trusted friends and die with honour - for that you'd gladly give up your whole life, never mind your bloody knicker elastic!Everything she dreamed about had come true! Midge's luck had held good every time, literally! Something terrible it was, if you really thought about it: what had she done to deserve such happiness? Before the war, to be honest, she'd though Excerpted from The Naked Pioneer Girl by Mikhail Kononov All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.