Moscow Racetrack: A Novel of Espionage at the Track

Anatolii Tikhonovich Gladilin, Author Ardis Publishers $0 (216p) ISBN 978-0-87501-064-9
``The racetrack is the only institution in Moscow where . . . there's room for private initiative,'' comments Igor Kholmogorov, the antihero of this ultimately disappointing novel about behind-the-scenes betting action at the Soviet equivalent of New York's Aqueductok . Gladilin, whose fluid satirical prose can be compared to that of Vassily Aksyonov, has an engaging premise. Kholmogorov, a high school literature teacher, spends his free time at the racetrack placing small-time bets according to a complicated, basically intuitive formula. But one day, acting on a tip, he and a friend known as ``the Professional'' win big. They are immediately arrested by the KGB, which has been observing the pair for some time and has developed larger plans for them. Trained as secret agents, the two are sent to France to infiltrate the Vincennes racetrack in Paris, make a killing and bring hard currency back to the Soviet Union. Although Gladilin's off-beat humor comes through, the novel is grossly self-indulgent. Its experimental, chaotic structure and lack of pacing often render it a hard-going read. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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