Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov: Free Book

There have been many thought provoking and insightful reviews written this month on the 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 stories.

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 are 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.

My thanks to TLC for the complimentary copy and including me on this tour.


  1. I also found the book challenging -- and the last story was particularly sad. Still, I loved Alenyikov's writing style. Glad you enjoyed this one!

  2. I'm glad you were able to relate to the characters in this story, but I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of both your parents - it's a difficult thing to deal with no matter what age we are.

    It IS hard to be at the end of the tour and to come up with something original to say, but I think you did a great job. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I've been seeing this one all over the place. Sounds fascinating! Please count me in. I'd love your "gently read" copy!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  5. I would LOVE to win this book! Thanks for the chance!

    nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

  6. How intriguing! I appreciate the chance to win your copy of this
    intense and interesting book...
    Many thanks, Cindi

  7. I am yet to read "Ivan and Misha" by Michael Alenyikov, but I know I would love to. Thank you for this generous giveaway.


  8. I would really love to win this. I've heard so many good things & it sounds right up my alley. bibliophile at bostonbibliophile.com. thanks for your generosity!

  9. And the winner is (may I have a drum roll, please...)


    Mahalo to everyone for entering!



  10. I also find this book challenging to read, as the perspective shifts from one character to the next. I'm about halfway through so I cannot speak in the same capacity as many of you. I find the the father's perspective most reverberating with things he feels but cannot convey to his son. Especially when he found his medicines in the bathroom cabinet.


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Ho'ola'i na manu i ke aheahe

"The birds poise quietly in the gentle breeze."
Said of those who are at peace with the world, undisturbed and contented.