The Girl Who Would Be Russian and Other Stories

Willis Johnson, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $15.95 (180p) ISBN 978-0-15-135691-1
These interlocking, luminous tales explore a community of Russians in a small Maine town: the Hotel Nicholas the Second where the elders live, a chapter of the nostalgic Union of True Russians, the three uneasily coexisting churches. ""The Girl Who Would Be Russian'' is Debbie Brown, unhappy in her own life, who wistfully seeks another by donning a Russian costume and accent and practicing the instrument her baffled mother calls a ``bellylicker.'' Everything audible in Mrs. Shostakovich's church confession of adultery in ``Sarajevo'' is known through the gossipy parish by nightfallto all but her fragile husband, who, failing in his attempt to evade the truth, flees his home and inadvertently escapes into death. ``Heir to the Realm'' in this aging, ingrown community is an unwanted child who, forbidden to play with her American schoolfellows, summons the only love available through fantasies about the town recluse. The community is tightly knit, but its members, uprooted from native land and kin, all bear the loneliness of personal tragedy. Their stories are rendered with humor, poignancy and grace in this superb collection. (March 12)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-88448-096-9
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