This is a quite remarkable story.

In each chapter we meet a new Viskovitz and, each time, he is a new species: dormouse, snail, mantis, finch… The changes flash past almost rhythmically, like the names of the stations on a long, hypnotic train journey. And this ever-changing Viskovitz frolics through the animal kingdom always seeking after the scintillating, endlessly desirable Ljuba for his mate. Always seeking, and never quite getting that promised ecstasy or, at least, always getting either more or less than he quite bargained for.

I’ve been flicking through it trying to pick out the best one to share but it’s impossible. They’re all so good. Here’s (an extract from) the one about the parrot:

One day I made up my mind and asked her: “Will you marry me?”
“Will you marry me?” she shot back.
“Of course, my love.”
“Of course, my love,” she answered…

What else could anyone want from life?
Some sort of surprise. And so I began seeing another she-parrot. One day I confessed to Ljuba. I said to her, “I have a lover.”
“I have a lover,” she replied.
“My lover is Lara,” I continued.
“My lover is Lara,” she confessed.
What could I say to that? I was dumb as stone. My wife with my lover…

I went to Ljuba and said, “Choose, either me or her.”
“Her,” she answered.
Then I went to Lara and delivered the same ultimatum, “Either me or her!”
“Damn you!” I said.
“Damn you!” she squeaked back…

Read just one, and it looks slightly silly but possibly intriguing and full of allegorical potential. Read the whole book, and the stories start to penetrate and to take on unanticipated meaning.

I’m going to have to read this one again…