cover image Quite the Other Way

Quite the Other Way

Kaylie Jones. Doubleday Books, $18.95 (415pp) ISBN 978-0-385-24119-9

A compulsion to fill in the missing pieces of her father's life draws Clinton Gray to the Gorky Institute in Moscow. Between classes and wary but amorous clinches with a fellow American student, she tracks down Russians who can shed light on why her father's sojourn as a journalist in the U.S.S.R. during World War II had such a radical effect on his later life. Jones ( As Soon as It Rains ) expertly mines Moscow's contradictions in the age of glasnost , shaping spirited, generally unconventional, Russian characters: greedy, childish Rita; Yelena Davidovna, a serene, elderly artist who had loved the elder Gray; Andrej, a play wright who shuffles aside wives, children and a querulous mother in pursuit of Clintonor at least her U.S. passport. The American characters (particularly a stereotypical New York Puerto Rican) fare less well, but while Jones's writing is uneven, it is substantial and almost always beguiling. (Mar.)