At first all the stories are just depressing. Some memorably so, others humorously so, others still just morosely so. Many are about poverty, vices, the lusts of money, fear of the cold, or loneliness, oppression, and cruelty, but each of them seems to focus very strongly on the crappiness of life. They stay with you, and they keep pulling you along. Best of all, they can be taken in at length- most short stories collections get tiring after three or four stories, here its possible to read them all in a sitting and enjoy every one of them. At first you are depressed, being hammered with these themes, but about 60% of the way through these very well written pieces you realize that these Russians understand something our modern Western culture doesnt: people are rotten; and somehow this formerly depressing literature becomes a masterpiece of art. They are painting you a picture of life that you dont want to hear, the truth that when the veneer of life is stripped away people are just no good, even down to the smallest child we are one and alike worthless. Counter-intuitively, its very refreshing to see the honest truth, and as a consequence you will remember these stories for the rest of your life. These Russian writers, they *get* it, they make it hit home in a way that doesnt happen very often from new books or television or movies. Alas, by in large the writers are a post Christian bunch, so instead of celebrating their brokenness and the kindness of God they are left with a void, but unlike Camus who decides to fill his philosophy with nonsense words the Russian masters quietly abstain in favor of just showing you life through their eyes. They just stare at the void in humanity. They dont explain it, nor mourn it, nor fantasize on what might make it go away, nor do they really accept it, they just show you to it. They show you real life, a life without redemption, without long term goals, and its frankly brilliant. Really it is. This is a high quality book of the original classic edition. This is a freshly published edition of this culturally important work, which is now, at last, again available to you.