How to Paint Chickens: And other Stories
Vladimir A. Shvarstman
VS Holding, LLC (2011)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/11)
“How to Paint Chickens” is a collection of short stories that follow Mr. Shvarstman from his childhood in Siberia to his adulthood in the United States. I found his recollections of growing up in Siberia to be absolutely fascinating. His stories of having been raised in a poor area where governmental control reigned supreme were very eye opening for me. Reading about how his family struggled to maintain what possessions they had, including chickens, was interesting and entertaining. I also gained a deeper appreciation for what opportunities I have had living in the United States.
After the author immigrated to the United States, he married, had a son and experienced a painful divorce. As he relives some of those experiences, he shares what he has learned from them. He also does a great deal of reflecting upon how things could be improved in the United States. I agree with much of his discourse, however, I know that most liberals will not. But I think he makes a lot of sense.
When the time comes for Mr. Shvarstman to move on to a new relationship, he hits some interesting bumps in the road. I found some of these experiences to be very amusing; however, I suspect at the time, they were not. Exploring online dating proved to be both adventurous and disastrous. He definitely put himself in situations where he could easily have been taken advantage of, yet I suspect his expectations from some of these women would have involved him taking advantage of them if they had not struck first. In addition to entertaining, this section was very eye opening and enlightening. Learning from this, I don’t recommend that people make themselves vulnerable by traveling long distances to meet potential mates. I also think that he learned that trying to date married women, who say they are in bad relationships, is futile. I think it works this way for both sexes.
The last half of the book focuses on dialogue from some of his potential mates. While there were some interesting points made in this section, I found some of the material to be too lengthy and this detracted from some of the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading “How to Paint Chickens.” I liked that the author included some of his artwork and pictures in the book. That definitely added to it. On the other hand, I found that there were a lot of grammatical errors that caused me to pause and try to figure out some of the meanings. I think that professional editing would really help make the book more enjoyable to all.