From Russia With a Kind of Love

I really did like A.D. Miller’s first novel, Snowdrops, very much. It certainly deserves its Booker Long List status. Although the plot is somehat confusing and in the end unsatisfying, Miller’s depictions of post-Soviet Moscow and an interesting collection of its inhabitants are descriptive writing at its best.

Nicholas, the narrator, is a nearly forty English lawyer who has resettled from calm and predictive London to the whirlwind of contemporary Moscow. It’s a love-hate relationship with the new Russia, and Miller is at his best in exposing ironies and contradictions in his keen observations of the nation and the personalities he focuses on in his novel.

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Chicago finally acknowledges Saul Bellow

It took awhile, but the city of Chicago has decided to recognize its only Nobel Prize winning novelist, Saul Bellow, by selecting his novel The Adventures of Augie March as its One Book, One Chicago 10th Anniversary selection. An odd choice. Augie will not be an easy read even to the iPAD and Kindle generation. As Joseph Epstein states in his recent piece in The New Criterion perhaps Bellow “wasn’t a novelist at all but a high-octane riffer, a philosophical schmoozer, an unsurpassed intellectual kibbitzer, one of the great monologists of the age. But he was no storyteller. Which explains why one doesn’t have much taste for rereading him, and why, there is good reason to believe, future generations are likely to have even less taste for reading him in the first place.” 

So good luck Chicago readers in your perusal of Bellow’s 550 page narrative of a kid with immigrant parents cavorting in and around Humboldt Park during the Depression. I agree with Epstein that the discerning reader will appreciate some literary elements, but will be disappointed as to where the storyline goes.