“Hold Onto Your Hats” Was Good Advice: M&M Readalong

Look, either I have Stockholm Syndrome or the book has really kicked into high gear in this, the third section of our Master and Margarita Readalong. Have I eaten any M&Ms yet? NO, but only because I am boycotting Hershey, Mars, and Nestle until 2020 which is when they’ve pledged to go to all fair-trade chocolate suppliers. But we’re halfway through the book and I appear to have stopped caring if any of it makes sense. I guess that’s the point Bulgakov’s trying to make anyway, right? Community Russia makes NO DAMN SENSE.

Now. I will admit that I began this section in a state of outrage because there’s a new character who isn’t Styopa (Styopa is in Yalta, still, I think) but whose name contains “Stepan.” Is this kind and just, Bulgakov? I had just gotten used to seeing “Stepan” and translating it in my head to “Styopa,” and now you come at me with this clerk Vasily Stepanovich Lastochkin, who like Styopa works for the theater where Woland did his magic show, and who also like Styopa was not in attendance at this magic show. Confusing, no?

But fine. Fine. Doesn’t matter. This chapter is great because Woland’s sidekicks go around ruining lives in hilarious ways in it for all the people who work for the Moscow Entertainment Commission. First, the cat curses the head Entertainment Commission guy so that instead of being a person, he’s just an empty suit conducting important Entertainment Commission business. Obviously I am in favor of this because

And Koroviev goes to the branch office of the Entertainment Commission and puts a curse on everyone in the office such that they break out into beautifully timed and harmonized song every few minutes. That sounds — yes, okay, terrible for the people it’s happening to, but extremely pleasant for anyone out on the street! Everyone loves it when groups of people sing in beautiful harmonies! Right? It’s a fun curse!

In this section, we finally meet the eponymous Margarita! She still loves the Master (duh), and she encounters Azazello, another of Woland’s minions, out on the street. I expected her to quickly get decapitated, but y’all, it’s so much better than that, she becomes A WITCH. One of the chapters about her is called “Azazello’s Cream” and this is a paragraph that occurs in it:

“Oh, what a cream! What a cream!” cried Margarita, throwing herself into an armchair.

My sister (who I may remind you gave me this book as a gift almost seven years ago) is probably reading this post like “you’re the worst Jenny, you are the literally worst human being in the entire world.” I KNOW I KNOW but Margarita honestly is like jumping up and down shouting “What a cream!” and for a while I was reading a lot about like, porn production in Victorian London because I had questions after rereading Fingersmith, so I also read some of the produced porn from Victorian London? And ladies dashing around the place crying “What a cream! What a cream!” would not have been even slightly out of place.

(Also: Spanking. So. Much. Spanking.)

ANYWAY, so Margarita gets this cream from Azazello (I know) and rubs it all over her body (I KNOW) and then she leaves a note for her husband saying she’s leaving him to become a witch. This book is so much better than it was in the beginning, y’all. Margarita gets the call from Azazello and flies out of her house — that’s not a figure of speech, she actually can fly when she has this cream on her (look I know, okay?) — while screaming “I’m invisible! Invisible!”

Like that wasn’t awesome enough, she next goes to a dude’s house and destroys everything in it. Things get very Midsummer Night’s Dreamy towards the end of all this, and then someone calls a car for Margarita and she goes back to Moscow. These two chapters have been magical, yo. At some point in them Margarita says this, which I am going to have cross-stitched on a pillow, a thing I very often threaten to do but very rarely do do, and let’s be honest, I’m probably not going to break that record on this but nevertheless I find it very pleasing:

“Once upon a time there was a lady. . . . At first she cried for a long time, but then she became wicked.”

STORY OF MY LIFE FOR REAL.

Next week, the devil is going to throw a ball, and Margarita is going to be the hostess of it. I can’t tell you how excited I am for that to happen. Thanks to Alice, as always, for hosting!

  • I’m so glad you’ve started to love this book! And giggling at the gifs. Especially the pants with nobody inside them, because that’s exactly the picture Walker and I had too, when we read about the empty suit.

  • 10,000 points for the Buffy musical gif AND David Boreanez!!

  • JeanPing

    Oh yeah, the pale green pants with nobody inside them were what I thought of too! Poor pale green pants with nobody inside them….

  • Stefanie@SoManyBooks

    I totally want to see that cross-stitched pillow because that is the awesomest quote! On the other side of the pillow you need to put What a cream!

  • Alley

    Do you think some of the satire is everyone having basically the same name, or is Bulgakova just terrible at coming up with names?

    Also A+ for all of your cream commentary.

    I’m happy stuff is finally getting awesome and pissed that it took us THIS LONG to get to Margarita.

  • Jenny, this whole post is amazing. And now I can be excited about my chocolate choices vastly increasing in 2020, I’m so happy.

  • Chrisbookarama

    Styopa is Stepa in my book and Vassily Stepanovich is your Stepan.

    And “became wicked” is “felt naughty.” I have to say I like your version better. Margarita has really taken to being a witch. I’m actually glad for her!

  • helen (a gallimaufry)

    What, what? I look away for five minutes and you’re all having a Master and Margarita readalong? I love that book and I should reread it. I first read it in a very creepy place and the first chapter freaked me out so much I had to rush out into the street and find a cafe and drink a lot of ouzo as you do.

  • Alice

    “NO, but only because I am boycotting Hershey, Mars, and Nestle until 2020 which is when they’ve pledged to go to all fair-trade chocolate suppliers.”

    Aw.

    I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE LIKING IT SO MUCH. This, of course, clearly means that I am liking it okay and not a ton, because if we ever both love a book that is not Harry Potter, IT SHALL BRING ON RAGNAROK. But also I love that quote you quoted so damn much and didn’t even NOTE IT properly at the time, and *also* you wins gifs for this week with the Buffy gif and *also* you’re right, so much spanking. I don’t get it, Victorian England. I DON’T GET IT.

  • IndieSister

    Oh, Jenny, Jenny! Here’s some naked witch ointment science for you!

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2012/10/31/witches-broomsticks-and-flying-heres-why/#af48a607739d