The Wild Beach & Other Stories

Helena Goscilo, Other Ardis Publishers $39.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87501-097-7
As in their earlier anthology, Glasnost, Goscilo and Lindsey represent contem- porary Russian fiction by including a wide range of styles, from the realistic village prose school popular during the '70s and '80s to the work of the literary avant-garde. Their choices, while not of the stellar quality of those in Glasnost, are exciting for their experimentation, candor and difficulty of subject matter, clearly reflecting concerns that until recently were declared off limits by the Soviet literary establishment. Four texts form the nucleus of the collection: Yury Trifonov's A Short Stay in the Torture Chamber, in which the narrator realizes that the grudge he has borne for so many years against a colleague who denounced him for anti-Soviet activities was based on a distorted understanding of events; Donna Anna, by Vladimir Tendryakov, a classic antiwar story about the horror and banality of combat; The Forbidden Chapter, Daniel Granin's factual narrative about the actions of a high-ranking Soviet official during the siege of Leningrad; and At Freedom Station, Vyacheslav Kondratiev's tale about a young soldier who accidentally witnesses a deportation of civilians to the Gulag just prior to Russia's entry into WW II. Most interesting, however, are the stories about long-censored problems: abortion, widespread in Russia due to the absence of safe and reliable contraception, is excellently handled in Natalya Sukhanova's Delos, and environmental disaster is touched up on in Leonid Shorokhov's dynamic The Lifeguard. The title story by Vitaly Moskalenko, one of the best entries, explores the social tensions in a town in southern Asiatic Russia and its citizens' brutal treatment of the local holy fool. These thought-provoking tales fluently inform the western reader about the gritty realities and the complexities of life in the former U.S.S.R. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
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