SCHLOCK Featuring Russia Cop by author David R. Low is a collection of four short stories that start in Japan and quickly move to Russia. These intriguing stories are very different in structure and style but share themes of obsession, disorder, and finding the so-called ‘Russian Soul’ through dark satire that isn’t afraid to descend into the bizarre. Low’s Russia is a chaotic society where culture has been consumed by a never-ending stream of filthy, overcrowded bars and a juvenile obsession with violence, drinking, and sex.
Whether it’s the ridiculous “Waiting for Deacon,” in which two Americans pointlessly pretend to be Australian, or the disturbing world that’s ruled by “Russia Cop” and an army of apes, the threat of violence is never far from the surface in these stories.
“English Teacher” starts as a traditional short story but soon transforms into a surreal drama in which everything that could possibly go wrong does go wrong. Unfortunately, the ending here leaves you with more questions than answers.
The best story of the collection is “Tsoi Lives,” in which a group of acquaintances travels to Russia in search of a one-time rock star. Exploring infatuation and identity, this is an emotionally gripping tale offering profound commentary on culture and obsession.
I found the metaphors commenting on Russia’s hatred of the U.S. to be transparent. That aside, the satire is dark and haunting. The characters are well-drawn and complex, giving readers a variety of personalities to follow. Low’s ability to create realistic dialogue even when the subjects are not is noteworthy.
SCHLOCK Featuring Russia Cop is a collection of dark and satirical short stories. These inventive stories are incredibly well-written and memorable, and fans of the absurd will find them funny. If you know Russia from the inside, this collection is a must-read.
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