Monday, January 10, 2011
A MOUNTAIN OF CRUMBS by Elena Gorokhova (✰✰✰✰)
This is a book which, had our library not purchased it, I would have bought. Having spent my impressionable later childhood in the shadow of the Soviet Union, this memoir by a resident of Leningrad, not too many years older than myself, was very high on my must read pile. I was not disappointed. Elena Gorokhova depicts her homeland with broad, visionary strokes of one not taken in by the party line. In addition to telling her own tale of life in post-Stalin Russia, she also includes a great wealth of the stories of her parents and grandparents, making this a social history reaching almost back to the Bolshevik revolution. On one hand, I felt as if this book transported me across the Iron Curtain, allowing me to see both the daily minutiae and the broader culture of my contemporary on the other side. On the other hand, at times the narration became a little bogged down in day-to-day detail and became rather sluggish. This one factor kept this book from earning a fifth star but in no way diminishes my wholehearted endorsement. Those of you who are of a similar age to the author will no doubt find this, as I did, an enlightening look at a parallel life.