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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Club: Another Show

Другое Шоу "Another Show"
By Evgeni Plushenko

Description: "Another Show" is the autobiographical account of Plushenko's rise to fame in Russia leading up to his victory in 2006 Olympics. It is a detailed story of Plushenko's early years, coming from an obscure town to the city of St. Petersburg as a young skating prodigy and his adolescence sufferings as a result of insufficient finances and emotional isolation, as well as bullying.

My thoughts: I grew up in the era of the male skating's greatest rivalry (in my opinion) and have such a fondness of Plushenko. I am also known to be very keen on Russian drama and intrigues. So what better recipe for me than Plushenko's personal account of his experiences?

Except, not exactly... I tell you why. It all starts very well. I loved reading about Plushenko's early involvement in skating, his move from Volgograd to St. Petersburg at the age of 11 to train with Mishin and being left on his own devices there for much of his adolescence. Although his financial sufferings in St. Petersburg read like a typical melodrama sometimes, his deadpan account does not suggest that they are exaggerated.

On the other hand, having watched a few Russian "dramacumentaries" previously, I was aware of the suspicious circumstances in Mishin's group with respect to bullying among skaters. We all know by now that Yagudin and Plushenko "kinda hate(d) each other" back in the day and there were many raw emotions not only related to the intense competitiveness of each skater.

"We're not that close. We kind of hate each other."

Reading Plushenko's account, it is still surprising to see how far fetched the alleged bullying was. It is also providing a good basis for the trademark fighting spirit in Plushenko to "beat them all" and be the best. Unfortunately, his comparatively impassive tone during the account of his financial misery is dearly missing in his account of the emotional turmoil that he was going through. Even more unfortunately, this was just a precursor to the overblown accounts of his competition against Yagudin or his personal life.

I find it extremely unnecessary to insinuate that Yagudin went to a sport psychologist to be known for doing some kind of Jedi mind tricks on the competition and that was the reason he fell on his 4T in his 2002 Olympic short programme.
Let me introduce you to Yagudin's sport psychologist.

While I appreciated his candidness in certain gossipy aspects, like his behind the doors struggles with his competition or his love life, I also thought it was very disrespectful to share such intimate details for his explanation as to why his marriage with Maria failed (in short "she was crazy jealous and unreasonable, I was very famous and center of attention"). By this point, the story-telling got so immature and chattering, I found myself mouthing Marshall's Oh Honey's over and over again.

In short, an abundance of material that could have been a great coming-on-top skating story gone overboard due to lack of decent editing and ego checking. Still very entertaining and I still love Plushenko. He didn't have me at hello but he had me at Crazy Bird.

 A skater with Johnny Depp's versatility


  1. Is there an English-language version of this book?

    1. There are unofficial fan-translations (English and Chinese) floating around the internet. If my Russian book wholesale contacts deliver we might also review Yagudin's book to complement this. Stay tuned. :)