he Isaac Quartet ;

THE GREEN LANTERN: A Romance of Stalinist Russia

Jerome Charyn, Author . Thunder's Mouth $22 (357p) ISBN 978-1-56858-312-9

Political intrigue and personal jealousy thrive under Stalin's dread stare in this lively new novel by veteran author Charyn (The Isaac Quartet ; Death of a Tango King ; etc.). Ivan Azerbaijan is a poor boy from the mountains who comes to Moscow with a traveling theater troupe to build sets for a new production of King Lear . When the theater troupe's leader is incapacitated, the six-foot-six Ivanushka, or "Little Ivan," is thrust into the role of Lear and discovers a talent for acting that makes the humble production the toast of Moscow's elite. Ivanushka attracts so much attention that Joseph Stalin himself descends to the tiny theater. Impressed, Stalin releases the sultry starlet Valentina Michaelson from house arrest to play Cordelia to Ivanushka's Lear. Soon Ivanushka, in love with Michaelson, finds himself surrounded by spies, apparatchiks and power brokers who negotiate to stay in Stalin's favor—a dangerous game, for inevitably Stalin "falls upon whatever person he admires." Charyn's Moscow is full of personalities, from the elusive Michaelson and the manipulative Vladimir Rustaveli, who takes Ivanushka under his wing, to the steely and erratic Stalin. Throughout, Charyn keeps the intrigue front and center—who will be arrested next, who will sleep with whom—but the unconsummated, wordy love affair between Michaelson and Ivanushka eventually stalls some of the book's momentum. Agent, Georges Borchardt. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
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