This worked a lot better than I'd expected. I bought it in Suceava, Romania because the bookstore employee told me it was "very famous", although his familiarity may come from being closer to its Moldavian setting, which several other locals urged me to visit, than someone, say, in Bucharest. I was more than a little worried I'd be reading a dull hagiography about life in Romania's nineteenth century mountains, but it turned out to be the memoirs of an unrepentant scamp.
I wouldn't have wanted Ion as a friend growing up, no matter how old he'd been when he pursued his minor sins. From the first, I found myself tut-tutting at his stealing of cherries from his aunt's cherry trees. Somehow I can't accept that I did worse as a child, or that stealing fruit from your neighbors' trees quickly turned up in two other books I'd been reading, "Good Omens" and "Tortilla Flat". Somehow it sounds worse when its being told with relish by the antagonist. Only once does he blame the devil by name, but it now sounds like sarcasm. Is this a book for children or only Romanian children?
I remembered Ion's stories a lot longer than stories and fables in a half dozen books I'd been reading at the same time. I wish that Ion had listened to his old driver who was warning him that life on the plains, which Ion was moving to, was intrinsically worse than their mountain village. But I fear that Ion died too young, at 52, in Bucharest.
This was one of the humourous books which "worked".