I'm not a fan of experimentation for its own sake, with nothing behind it, but The Queue uses a weird, playful style for a real purpose, without ever feeling too much like, "LOOK AT HOW SPECIAL I AM."
Essentially, the book is written entirely in dialogue, and set completely within the time spent waiting in line for unspecified goods in late-era Soviet Russia. It's a charming idea that never tries to be too serious, although one that means the book probably isn't worth buying
exactly, since by the word it's about the length of a long poem or short story.
With no larger context or description, The Queue captures a time and place pretty amazingly and shows the ways in which a society can form around certain things, get them down to a science, and still feel familiar. People grouse, people flirt, people drink, people yell, it's just in a slightly different set of circumstances than I'm used to. What's more, it isn't rigid Stalinist Russia or shaky 80s Russia, it's the comfy late 70s, when people only wait in line for luxury goods and if you want to take off from the line for an hour to get your drink on it's no problem really.
The story, what there is of it, is light and often disappears for long stretches, but the point of the book is to put forth the rhythms of life in this specific time, to show the idiosyncracies of late 70s Russia, and to look with criticism and fondness at those idiosyncracies. (The author's Afterword serves it up with more specificity and nostalgia, and is also required reading.) After I recently read about the horrifying birth pangs of the Soviet Union in Three Cities it was fascinating to see where it all went from a simple, street-level point of view.
A fun, extremely quick, read that teaches a lot without having to say much.