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Stalin's Nose: Across the Face of Europe
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Stalin's Nose: Across the Face of Europe

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  132 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
This surreal and darkly comic tale is based on the author's journey from Berlin to Moscow, through Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, only weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Paperback, 232 pages
Published May 15th 2008 by Tauris Parke Paperbacks (first published 1992)
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Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
I am informed that this is "travel writing" and in his preface Colin Thubron tells me that this an innovative piece of travel literature breaking new ground by being a blend of fiction and fact.... Excuse me.... am I missing something here? This is a work of fiction in which the hero, his aunt and her pig travel through Eastern Europe at the time of the great changes that took place when the Berlin Wall came down. So it's fiction set in a real time and real places... Doesn't a lot of literature ...more
loving this so far. Loved it.

Here is the author.

Laura J
Only now do I know that the author is a travel writer. I read the book, thinking it was more of a memoir. I understand more about the book now, having read other readers' reviews. It was interesting to read personalized observations of the Communist years and how things had changed afterwards.
Mar 21, 2013 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rory MacLean's 1992 travels around the Eastern Bloc,hot on the tailwind of the momentous events of 1989 & the 'fall of the wall' & 'the drawing-back of the iron curtain' make an engrossing,entertaining & often black-humourous tour of the darkest areas of the horrific Communist(whatever that meant!) Eastern Bloc.
From its opening chapter,where the ex-KGB agent,Peter,is killed(off-screen,as it were)by a falling pig,Winston (he was in a tree!) the tone of black satire is set.Rory MacLean
Feb 24, 2013 Kriegslok rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In his preface to the 2009 edition Colin Thubron suggests that Rory Maclean may have strayed from the factual into the realms of the surreal and fantastic in his journal of a road/rail trip through the Central/Eastern Europe of the early 90s. As someone who personallyt spent as much of the 90s as I could travelling in the same region I can only assume That Mr Thubron never travelled there during that period or if he did he did so in a cocoon or with his eyes closed. There was something unique in ...more
Oct 27, 2013 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first piece of travel writing I've read, and it took me quite a while to adjust to its style, especially in how it played with fact and fiction. I was not expecting it and quite a few times I would forget that I wasn't reading a novel, because, for me, it really did read like fiction.

I really liked the idea behind the book- taking a journey 'of memory' across Eastern Europe, and it's very telling of the immediate post-communist moment in Europe, however, while I was actually readin
Mary Warnement
How do you confront learning a loved ones you knew as a gentle gardener was a bigwig in the KGB? You travel across Eastern Europe with your Aunt Zita, his wife, and her pig dubbed Winston whose fall from a tree broke your uncle's neck. That description of circumstances sets up what becomes a series of surreal encounters with distant family, starting with strapping Zita's estranged sister's husband's coffin to the top of your faulty Trabant and taking it to be buried. The endpapers show their rou ...more
Stuart Hill
A very peculiar book indeed. This attempted to combine fiction and fact in order to portray the condition of post-Communism Eastern Europe. The obviously fictional elements such as travelling with a pig seemed to be an attempt to portray the societies as farcical but this didn't really work for me. It would have been better to describe actual experience to illustrate the bizarre and frustrating aspects of life met by the traveller. The result was that MacLean comes across as a poor man's PG Wode ...more
Mar 27, 2010 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book describes a trip taken by the author, his aunt and her pig a few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They drive through some of the countries that have just been freed from Communism in her old Trabant.
What started off as a funny book is in fact informative and interesting in the descriptions of life under Soviet influence, and the people who suffered through it, as well as the point of view of his aunt, who had been married to a Communist agent.
Although it has been only 20 years
Diane Fordham
I have had this book on my bookshelf for sometime and have been looking forward to getting started on it. It should have been really good, It is the story of the author and his aunt from West Berlin. In the aftermath of the fall of the wall they set off on a road trip in an old Trabant. En route they meet lots of long lost relatives a friends who tell their stories. A perfect recipe. I expected to find this informative, funny and very readable, However I found the writing style very cumbersome a ...more
Aug 01, 2010 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a bit dated since the travels in it occur in the 1990s, but it is interesting nevertheless. The author gives the reader some very good insights into how people who lived under the Communist regimes were beginning to make the transition to other forms of government rule. This may sound like a dull book, but it is not dull at all. The asuthor tends to see both the humor in people's thoughts, attitudes and practices as well as the poignant.
Magdalena Wajda
Jan 14, 2016 Magdalena Wajda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An account of travel across Eastern Europe in the spring of 1990, just after the Wall came down. Bitter-sweet, funny, poignant, nostalgic - all of this together. An excellent picture of the paradoxes of the countries in the course of changing their political system and trying to come to terms with their past.
Shaun Major
Jan 11, 2014 Shaun Major rated it it was ok
Difficult to follow, difficult to accept, and hard to swallow in places I struggled with it too often to really enjoy it. Thubron and Dalrymple clearly loved it, so perhaps I am missing something. Don't say you weren't warned, however!
With the big praise on the cover (John Le Carre, William Dalrymple, Jan Morris, The Times etc) I guess I expected more. Fictionalised travel - ie a story woven into characters in the cities and towns along the route of travel - rather than actual travel.
Not sure it was for me.
Ted D
Apr 18, 2014 Ted D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a wonderful travel book. If you loved old style eastern Europe, I urge you to read it, you'll be laughing out loud.
Oct 23, 2008 B rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
914.704 A nephew travels around what was the Eastern Block with his aunt. Funny situations but historical at this point.
May 15, 2009 Mb_presents rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookgroup
it's a very confusing yet funny and interesting tale mixed with many true historic facts. i liked it even though i'm still a little confused about certain things in the story
Paul Harris
Paul Harris rated it really liked it
May 27, 2012
Stevefk rated it liked it
Oct 09, 2011
Wendy rated it it was ok
Dec 06, 2016
Doug Leveridge
Doug Leveridge rated it liked it
Jan 14, 2014
Ted rated it it was amazing
Feb 26, 2012
Jackie G
Jackie G rated it it was amazing
Jun 27, 2012
Cenydd rated it liked it
Nov 08, 2014
Paul rated it it was amazing
Aug 10, 2012
Jo Firmin
Jo Firmin rated it it was ok
Oct 06, 2015
Ashley rated it liked it
May 04, 2010
Jill Cordry
Jill Cordry rated it liked it
Apr 17, 2013
Sithara rated it really liked it
Sep 11, 2013
Amy Jolly
Amy Jolly rated it it was amazing
Sep 13, 2014
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Rory MacLean is a Canadian travel writer. He was born in Vancouver and grew up in Toronto, graduating from Upper Canada College and Ryerson University. For ten years he made movies with moderate success, working with David Hemmings and Ken Russell in England, David Bowie in Berlin and Marlene Dietrich in Paris. In 1989 he won The Independent inaugural travel writing competition and changed from sc ...more
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