What a wonderful world we live in where a book like Francis Spufford's Red Plenty can be published! It came out in the UK in and it has. “Mr. Spufford is an amused and amusing observer of human beings, and it is a pleasure to be in his company Red Plenty is a strong and. Red Plenty by Francis Spufford. Set in Soviet Russia, these vivid short stories highlight the failings of planned economies. James Meek.


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This is not a dry book, even though at times the economic reasoning can be hard to follow. Spufford invests his characters with loves, joys, whimsy and weakness spufford red plenty puts them in believable worlds — sometimes eerily so, given that he doesn't speak Russian.

Red Plenty by Francis Spufford: review - Telegraph

He can get carried away with his own virtuosity — the detailed descriptions of how a computer works and how spufford red plenty begins are as superfluous as they are brilliant — but more often his stories cut richly, subtly to the point.

The interlude where Chekuskin the spufford red plenty enters the parallel Soviet universe of life criminals, spufford red plenty Lawful Thieves, foreshadows the criminalisation of the Soviet economy, and a gruesome tale of childbirth, with pain forcing a woman to exploit her husband's party connections to get some painkillers, suggests the birth of corruption in a grimly literal way.

Apparently Soviet obstetricians used to tell expectant mothers that labour pain was a myth invented by capitalist doctors. Red Plenty is not merely a series of quaint historical vignettes.

Red Plenty: Inside the Fifties' Soviet Dream

In the end, although there were moments in the 20th century when the Soviet Union ran the US and western Europe pretty close when it came to the war on want, it was never a contender in the war of people getting what they want.

But the materialism of both sides, the idea that plenty is spufford red plenty ultimate goal of society, is a mean-minded sort of dream. Soviet planning of the spufford red plenty Spufford writes about lives on now only in North Korea and Cuba.


The biggest recent theoretical development in that discourse is probably Spufford red plenty Jameson's Archaeologies of the Futurewith its exhilaratingly gnarled dialectical argument that, actually, it is only by imagining dystopia can we truly think utopia.

Red Plenty makes a fascinating counter-case. Not that Spufford spufford red plenty the dystopia his account of the Novocherkassk massacre, for instance, is visceral stuff ; but the strength of his novel is its imaginative entry into a mindset that took utopia seriously, as a straightforward and achievable goal.

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  • Red Plenty by Francis Spufford: review

The characters in this novel strive to give the people of the USSR spufford red plenty plenty, not in a naive sense that plenty is a spufford red plenty panacea, but in the knowledge, alien to much of the oversupplied west, that plenty is a necessary precondition for the full range of human experience.

Spufford's characters debate this over and again.

Red Plenty: Inside the Fifties' Soviet Dream by Francis Spufford

What I'm saying is that plenty is an inherently vulgar idea. It is, in itself, a stupid response to human needs. No one ever feels a generic hunger or a generic loneliness, no one ever requires a generic solution to spufford red plenty things.

Your plenty's like a bucket of plaster of paris you want to pour over people's heads. It a way of not paying human attention spufford red plenty them.

Plenty is the condition that will let us distinguish, for the first time, between avoidable and unavoidable suffering.

Red Plenty: Francis Spufford: : Books

We solve spufford red plenty avoidable stuff—which seems pretty bloody generic to me, given that a bowl of soup cures everybody's hunger and a painkiller cures everybody's headache—and then we know that what's left is real tragedy, boo-hoo, write a play about it. Galich, inis commissioned to write a utopian account of "life in Spufford red plenty looks paradoxical, perhaps; to write a book about this will-to-futurity as a historical novel.

But history is where this story is; and Spufford goes out of his way to ground pretty much every sentence in historical actuality.

Which, in turn, leads me to my one reviewerly complaint. I have my doubts about the endnotes. These meticulously distinguish the spufford red plenty from the fiction "the speech I have given Vitalevich here is a patchwork of elements, heavily edited and simplified, from his real speeches to the conference on mathematics spufford red plenty economics really held by the Russian Academy of Sciences in April "; "though this confrontation is a device to dramatise the ideological conflict over Kantorovich's "heresy," the conference really was marked by sharp antagonism between him and Boyarskii, who had published a very hostile review of his Best Use of Economic Resources in the journal Planovoe Khozyaistvo " ; but in doing so they risk undermining the imaginative license upon which fiction vitally depends.

It was a tipping point of the Soviet Union.