A strange novella: beautiful in places, with dream-like qualities and hence the reader is often a little lost too.
Serezha visits his sister and family in 1916 Russia. He is very tired and dreams/reminisces about his recent past, particularly his time as tutor to a rich boy and the lady's companion who was also employed there.
The meandering nature of the book is echoed by significant references to water, swimming and floating, including "washed in public notoriety" (and oxymoron?), "women... had swum to the street surface, raised by chance and attraction from non-existence". and the fact that the story Serezha tries to write opens "Then it began to rain" because "such drafts inevitably abound in water as an element".
There are also some striking metaphors, such as "the streets on an empty stomach were impetuously straight and surly", "her self-assurance, which was softened only by her complete ignorance of her defect" and a prostitute's rug which "with a rare show ofobeisance invited him not to stand on ceremony"!
Overall, I liked parts of it, but wasn't won over by the whole. On the other hand, it's very short, so that was fine.