A Meditative Travelogue Across Russia In Napoleon’s Footsteps

Book review: Berezina, by Sylvain Tesson (Amazon / Book Depository) It's during a previous journey that the idea of a future one comes to mind. Imagination carries the traveler far from the trap where he's gotten stuck. While in the Negev desert, he'll dream of a Scottish glen; in a monsoon, of the Hoggar Mountains;... Continue Reading →

Oral Histories from “The Last of the Soviets” #WITMonth

Book review: Secondhand Time, by Svetlana Alexievich (Amazon / Book Depository) In writing, I’m piecing together the history of “domestic,” “interior” socialism. As it existed in a person’s soul. I’ve always been drawn to this miniature expanse: one person, the individual. It’s where everything really happens. 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich's Secondhand Time is... Continue Reading →

A Voice from the Gulag

Book review: The Day Will Pass Away, by Ivan Chistyakov (Amazon / Book Depository) So even my inner word recedes day by day into eternity until it reaches freezing point. You start believing they can make you lose all emotion. Yet every day brings you nearer to freedom. Only, what kind of path are you walking to get there?... Continue Reading →

What Makes the Russians Tick

Book review: Russians, by Gregory Feifer "Russia has no need of sermons (she has heard too many), nor of prayers (she has mumbled them too often), but of the awakening in the people a feeling of human dignity, lost for so many ages in mud and filth." - Vissarion Belinsky on the Russian Orthodox Church in a letter to... Continue Reading →

Rest in peace. You are not forgotten.

Book review: History of a Disappearance, by Filip Springer "'Our memories of the town keep getting more beautiful as the years go by,' they laugh, because that's how human memory is - it sifts out the bad and only holds on to beautiful images." It's a strange but true facet of history that for several periods of... Continue Reading →

Trekking the Urals for a Soviet Mystery

Book review: Dead Mountain, by Donnie Eichar Book Depository In February 1959, nine experienced hikers died under mysterious circumstances on a cross-country ski trip in the Ural Mountains. They were university students, longtime friends, and accustomed to the harsh conditions and remote, exerting atmosphere of hiking and skiing during winter at the border of Siberia. When... Continue Reading →

Vignettes from a Communist Childhood

Book review: The Girl from the Metropol Hotel, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya Book Depository Ludmilla Petrushevskaya is one of contemporary Russia's most loved and accoladed author/playwrights, famous for her books of "scary fairytales"(There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby) and "love stories" (There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband and He... Continue Reading →

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