Plot/Idea: Low's impressive, eclectic collection manages to present four tales that are simultaneously distinct, yet are all linked through the mysterious idea of the "Russian Soul" and the search for connection when living outside of one's home culture. Featuring everything from a Russian RoboCop parody to one man's difficult quest to find a bathroom, Low's plots prove entertaining and often laugh-out-loud funny.
Prose: Low's prose is descriptive and flowing, yet also frenetic—perfectly capturing the wild randomness of his character's experiences in Russia. The book's punchy speech in dialect and hilarious vulgarity also serve to enhance the text's focus on absurdist themes.
Originality: While stories of expats traveling through exchange programs or people simply visiting foreign countries aren't wholly original, Low's offering stands out for its genuine combination of humorous plot devices and serious content. The book's innovative use of different formats is additionally impressive, including forays into critical essays and screenplays.
Character Development/Execution: SCHLOCK featuring Russia Cop is overall more focused on satirical plots and situations than characters, which works due to the book's general zaniness and madcap pacing. The work is not without introspective moments, however, and features several characters going through realistic changes and experiencing unexpected revelations; these sections are made all the more powerful as they don't happen that often.
Blurb: A satirical collection of connected stories focusing on Russia, David R. Low's SCHLOCK Featuring Russia Cop is a delightfully bawdy, sometimes melancholy, take on encountering another culture headfirst.
Date Submitted: April 08, 2022
The satiric climax arrives in the third story, with a documentarian’s attempts to discredit a bioengineered robot, Russia Cop, whose duty is, “…to enforce Russian soul and patriotic sentiment throughout the nation.” Mighty enough to throw vehicles and withstand artillery shells, Russia Cop undergoes a jolting mental change throughout the narrative, and by the end has enlisted an army of orangutans, endorses Adidas as the best product material for his job, and is vying for the position of Russia’s premier, running on the platform that he “…will not rest until every citizen of the Russian Federation has become a homosexual.” Despite an ambiguous judgment on Russia Cop’s success, Low ends with the darkly funny note “we live in the age of Russia Cop.”
The final story muses on many of Low’s principal themes, told from the perspective of a podcast that addresses entrenched beliefs about Americans in Russia. Depicting Americans forced to pose as Australians in order to enjoy Russia in peace, Low illuminates how far individuals will go to feel accepted, an idea that exemplifies this collection’s chaotic familiarity, writing that mirrors contemporary reality at every turn.
Takeaway: Readers who love the absurd will be swept up by Low’s satiric collection examining the Russian soul.
Great for fans of: Ken Babbs’s Cronies, Max Barry’s Jennifer Government.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A