I've read some pretty trippy books in my day, like Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World or The Satanic Verses, but I think The Master and Margarita takes the cake. And I don't even know if I like the book. I mean, I must if I'm writing about it, but I think I'm still overwhelmed and a floored by the whole experience that Mikhail Bulgakov created.
And how he created it! I mean, how does an person come up with a story like that? Maybe it was good (mis)fortune on his part, in being an artist in a communist Russia. And I can see why the man burned the manuscript when he first wrote it. And I can see why it was censored because it is outrageous, ridiculous, tragic, comedic and sincere.
I guess we should also give props to the character that the world dubs as the Devil, or as Bulgakov refers to him in his novel: the foreign magician Woland. There's so much you can do with that character and Bulgakov just really lets all reins loose. When his devil comes to the communist non-God or Satan believing Moscow, things really go to hell.
I realize I haven't talked about the story at all: The Devil and his retinue (a man with eyeglasses, a black cat with a bawdy humor, a naked woman and a fanged ruffian) come to Moscow. They kick off their stay by telling a guy that he's about to be decapitated because Annushka has spilled the sunflower oil. Which happens because Annushka's spilled oil causes the man to trip in front of a train and get runover. From there, everyone Woland, as he calls himself, meets ends up in a sanitarium, demanding to be put in a guarded vault or completely bewildered by it all. And in all the chaos, and I this review doesn't even begin to hint at the demonic revelry that goes on, there are our titular characters who don't appear until halfway through the book. The Master's in the sanatorium because of his failure to write about his story about Pontius Pilate (which by the way is the narrative Woland unless tells the soon-to-be-decapitated man in the beginning of the book). The Master loves Margarita, but Margarita doesn't know he's in a santarium. She strikes a deal with the Devil to get him back. And interestingly enough, I thikn the book ends on a happy note, despite all the .... stuff. Or as the author says, the story ends with peace if not salvation.
(Edit: Gaah, my writing is terrible in this review. Although its topsy-turvy manner reflects the state of the plot.)