Say Cheese

Vassily Aksyonov, Author, Peter Osnos, Editor, Aksyonov Bouis, Translator Random House (NY) $19.95 (404p) ISBN 978-0-394-54363-5
This lengthy new release by the well-known emigre writer ( In Search of Melancholy Baby ) is an exuberant high-spirited farce that makes pointed jabs at every aspect of Soviet society. Max Ogorodnikov, the ``star'' of the novel, is a larger-than-life character, a famous photographer on his sixth and seventh wives, whose wit and courage make him a special target of the KGB. When he and his fellow ``new wave'' circle of friends put together an uncensored photo album called ``Say Cheese,'' the KGB immediately tries to suppress it. Max escapes to New York, where the album is released and becomes an international sensation. Returning home, he finds his KGB ``handlers'' have stepped up their efforts to harass him and his wife; Max finally considers emigration. The novel ends with a rousing call for Soviet solidarity. Although not always master of his own plot (characters mysteriously disappear and reappear at random throughout the narrative), Aksyonov's scathing wit may make him the nearest thing the Soviet Union has to Tom Wolfe. The plot's absurd twists and turns render this a hilarious, if not always controlled, joy to read. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
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