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Showing posts from April, 2013

Smashed in the USSR - a brief review

I picked up a book over the weekend called Smashed in the USSR and felt obliged to write a short review, simply because it is very good but appears to have been largely ignored, if the lack of mentions on Google and its non-inclusion on Goodreads is a fair gauge.  Subtitled ‘Fear, Loathing and Vodka on the Steppes’ it tells the story of Ivan Petrov, a Russian tramp, as told to co-author, Caroline Walton.
Some research reveals that the book was previously published as Russia Through a Shot Glass and perhaps that title was better.  Smashed in the USSR is a little trite and it suggests a booze-fuelled, gonzo-style romp, whereas Petrov’s tale is actually a sad and thoughtful account of alcoholism, personal and national, against a broad sweep of the USSR’s history and an even broader sweep of Soviet geography.
His voice is captured particularly elegantly by Walton and it reveals a great deal of humour and a surprising lack of self-pity.  Petrov describes the crushing poverty of a wartime …