In Search of Melancholy Baby

Vasilii Pavlovich Aksenov, Author, Vassily Aksyonov, Author, Antonina W. Bouis, Translator Random House (NY) $15.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-394-54364-2
A Soviet emigre novelist now living in Washington, D.C., Aksyonov (The Burn, etc.) describes here alienation from and gradual acceptance of his adopted homeland. The self-described ""critically thinking Soviet'' tosses off a perceptive potpourri that is mildly witty and affecting but also disjointed and underdeveloped: on Russian anti- and pro-American sentiment; jazz; the benefits of Washington over New York; American Slavists; Soviet blacks; Russian Americans; American bureaucracy; an aunt who raised him after his parents were arrested in Stalin's purges (his mother survived). Frothy musings on American naivete and provincialism, literary hackwork, high rents and cockroaches, credit cards, homosexuals, etc., are less than original. Sandwiched between the chapters of nonfiction, and also chronicling the emigre experience, are somewhat experimental and curious ``Sketches for a Novel to Be'' to be named after the jazz song ``Melancholy Baby''; these sketches, says the author, ``may be considered commercial messages.'' Portions of this book previously appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the Washington Post. (June 30)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1987
Release date: 06/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 231 pages - 978-0-394-75992-0
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