cover image Epics of Everyday Life: 2encounters in a Changing Russia

Epics of Everyday Life: 2encounters in a Changing Russia

Susan Richards, Author Viking Books $22.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-82743-5

After extended stays in the U.S.S.R. between fall '88 and summer '90, Richards, a British film producer, here presents one of the gloomiest pictures in memory. With an obvious talent for ingratiating herself, she got herself invited to share the apartments of natives she met casually in Moscow, Baku, Novosibirk and Kiev. Conventional wisdom throughout that vast land, according to the author, decrees the problems of perestroika to be intractable, and although fears of repression are gone, ``everything else is the same'': with everybody on the fiddle, people resist reforms that threaten to topple private ``arrangements'' for supplying individual needs (``Nobody talks of buying, only procuring''). Richards recalls with affection those who welcomed her into their homes, while presenting herself here as a sometimes difficult houseguest who often ``did not understand what was going on.'' And although she has much of interest to say, so tiresomely does she intrude herself into the tale that few readers are likely to be as indulgent of her as her hosts were. (May)