TLC book tour of Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov. Many have called it a top ten read of the year. I agree.
Sally's review from Bibrary Book Lust is a favorite, "it's like a Russian nesting doll, with stories inside
stories, each of them revealing something grander, but demanding a
greater share of attention to appreciate what you’ve found."
How can I top that? This is a problem when you're at the end of the tour of a popular book and trying to think of a new twist that has yet to be mentioned.
I will say this...
If you'd like a chance to win my gently used book, leave a comment with your email address. I'll pick a winner on October 8 for Yom Kippur. And if you live outside of the USA, you can enter too.
The only reason I'm letting it leave my shelf is because I received a PDF copy from TLC Book Tours. (The
E-book is not available yet and I hope it will be soon).
Back to the story, Alenyikov writes with passion and heartfelt honesty. After losing two parents recently I could relate to the sons' relationship with their father and his to them. Alenyikov brilliantly shows both sides. For me the father's story was my personal favorite.
I'm still trying to figure out the last story. It's hard to read about dying with AIDS. I need more time to digest and let it sink in. The other reviewers are ahead of me on this one. Who is Vinnie?
Response from Author: Michael was kind enough to write to me today about the last short story. "It's the only story I wrote independently of the others...(and)...the first story I wrote when I started writing fiction in mid-life. An author shouldn't have to explain."
My Comment: I agree with you Michael. It's like asking a painter to explain the art he/she has created.
Response from Michael:
"Just to clarify: What I meant about an author not needing to
clarify his/her work is that I tried hard not to confuse the reader,
needlessly. And if readers are confused then I wonder if I did a good
job guiding them along. That last story was asking more from readers: to
make a leap to a narrator who was a very minor character in earlier
I actually had two other stories I cut at the last
minute because while they were quite good I decided it was asking too
much of the readers (one story was about a gay Swiss UN Peacekeeper in
East Timor and Bosnia -- and I introduced a half-brother to Ivan and
Misha about whom they knew nothing.)
The larger question of what
does a work mean, what should it mean, is hard for an author and I leave
that up to the readers. As the author my deepest feeling is that these
characters, emotions, events, thoughts, sentences I've lived with for
many years. I'm always surprised at what readers pick up on, feel most
strongly about, etc. I think when we see authors on TV talking about
their work they've kind of rehearsed lines that make it seem as if the
author had those themes in mind all along, when in fact, a good deal of
the time when writing one is quite in the dark about the impact of one's
words, one's characters."
My Comment: Thanks Michael for your thoughtful discussion. I don't think I was in the right place emotionally for the last chapter. And because of this, I missed a key element. I understood the story was from an earlier time and remembered that Kevin was Misha's former lover.
This collection of stories of two fraternal twins, both gay, who move to New York with their father from Kiev is one I'll come back to. Stay tuned.