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Don't Die Before You're Dead
Infused with a passionate lyricism and vision, this stunning, extraordinarily insightful, autobiographical novel about life, love, and politics in contemporary Russia, written by renowned poet and political activist Yevtushenko, presages all too accurately the strife that grips Russia today.
Published 1995 by Key Porter Books
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While sublime on its own accord, it should be perhaps pursued in tandem w/ Remnick's Lenin's Tomb for purposes of context. One couldn't imagine a better example of poet's journalism. This shouldn't be confused with poetic journalism, of which Robert Musil was a licensed practitioner. No this a poet parsing reality as history hemorrhages. The eloquence of the event becomes an image: Rostapovich with a Kalashnikov and a girl named Boat lost to the whimsy of Time.
What a wonderful surprise this book turned out to be. I've been reading about Russia for a few months, and when I found this book at a thrift store, I thought it might add a lot. Indeed it did. The book covers the unsuccessful coup of August 1991, when the Communists who were being made superfluous by Gorbachav's Perestroika and Glasnost. We meet dozens of fascinating characters, representing many sides of the Russian experience in this time. I call this both history and historical fiction since ...more
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Yevtushenko in the 90s when he was traveling in NY. His zeal for life was inspiring then and remains inspiring now. Hearing him read his poems live on stage (in Russian, with an English translator who then read the translated version) was a thrill. So I am biased in that his outsized personality now shines through anything I read by him. This is a very enjoyable book.
Story takes place in Russia before & during the attempted 1991 coup to overthrow Gorbachev. Very human - funny and touching, but my ignorance and forgetfulness in regards to historical/political events hindered me greatly; much of the book went right over my head, I'm afraid. Vivid characters though -- I caught & appreciated those!
Dec 21, 2007 Stephen rated it 5 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Recommends it for: politicos, slavophiles, biographers
One of the best works of autobiography I've come across. Not as lyrical as Speak, Memory or other brilliant biographies of his countrymen, but written with the passion and insight that a true Slavic poet brings.
Jun 08, 2008 Alison rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in good stories - or in Russians...
Recommended to Alison by: Douglas
such a fascinating memoir / novel of the end of the USSR! The characters are touching, with just enough of that Russian darkness to keep it from becoming sappy. Plus, I learned alot about how that all went down...
Yevgeny Aleksandrovich Yevtushenko (Russian: Евгений Александрович Евтушенко; born 18 July 1933 in Zima Junction, Siberia) is a Soviet and Russian poet. He is also a novelist, essayist, dramatist, screenwriter, actor, editor, and a director of several films.More about Yevgeny Yevtushenko...