Monday, October 10, 2016

MasterAndMargareadalong Post II: Congrats, citizens, you done lied!

Another Monday, so another #MasterAndMargareadalong post! Thank you, Alice, for making us read this book we've all been holding on to.
This week covers chapters 9-16 so we're almost 50% through this book and I still have only the vaguest sense of what's going on. But according to my friend who lent me the book, that's pretty much exactly how you should be going through a first reading of the book so WELL DONE, US! So, let's see if we can make heads or tales of things.
When last we posted, the devil and his cronies had disappeared this guy Styopa to Yalta, which is quite far from Moscow, so they could take over his apartment. I wonder what the devil wants with this crappy apartment. But he wants it. Except now the landlord is asking questions so they frame him for insider trading or something so another problem disappeared. I dunno, I thought the devil would be more creative but I guess making people suddenly disappear is sort of a Soviet thing.

Styopa tries to get in touch with some colleagues to tell them where he is but since they had just talked to him that morning before the disappearing thing, they are skeptical, despite being sent a ton of telegrams (why not just one, sir?) saying where he is. The devil breaks from his normal way of dealing with people he wants to silence (predicting a gruesome death or disappearing them far away) to just straight jumping the guy, and again, this seems like way below the devil. This is not the poetically ironic punishment I have come to expect from the devil, nor is it the ridiculously over-the-top torture I thought demons would dole out.
Then we go to the theater where Woland and his buddies actually do perform some magic, which I had assumed was just some lie they were telling to take Styopa's apartment. They do some card tricks, rain money down, and then give a bunch of clothes away. At this point, they're basically the show from Now You See Me. The MC for the event keeps explaining the tricks (kind of) which is kind of a dick move and everyone is getting annoyed at him. So annoyed that someone in the crowd yells "Off with his head" and Behemoth the cat takes it literally and, well, takes off his head. Don't worry though, when the audience freaks out at this he puts it back and apparently the guy is fine.

Back at the hospital with the Poet/Ivan/Homeless we finally meet someone that I think is the titular "Master" though who knows really. This guy stole some keys off of one of the nurses but instead of using the doors he goes through the balcony and the hospital rooms have balconies? That's fancy. He tells some story about falling in love with a lady with yellow flowers (and apparently carrying ugly yellow flowers is a sign for him to follow her?)
and how they're secretly married except she's already married and I dunno. He was writing some novel about Pilate but it's terrible and a bunch of negative criticism drives him insane, hence why he's now at the hospital.

Lots of people end up at this hospital, like Nikanor, the guy framed by the devil. At some point, you'd think enough people at the hospital are going to have stories about run-ins with the same guys and someone is going to put two and two together. 

We then get another Waynes World flashback to Jesus days, where we see Jesus being hanged on the cross. Matthew Levi had tried to kill Jesus before he could suffer but didn't manage that. Instead one of the guards watching the prisoners gives them each some water and then stabs them in the heart to end things quicker. I don't have much to say here except at one point the book says "the back of his white shirt dark with sweat" and all I could think is white clothes get transparent with sweat and that was a stupid moment to pull me out of the story, but given I still have only the vaguest idea of what is happening or who anyone is, I guess it's not too surprising.

What will happen next week? Legit no idea. Maybe a few other people will end up at the hospital? A few more people will get disappeared to far away locations? The cat will rip off a few other heads and limbs? WHO KNOWS! Not me.

Title quote from page 123

Bulgakov, Mikhail. trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. The Master and Margarita. Penguin Classics, 1997. Originally published 1966.