Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the dictatorship of the proletariat: I'll have a Big Mac and large fries, please ..., 3 July 2012
This review is from: Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag (Hardcover)
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I gave this to my Bulgarian girlfriend. She grew up under the Communist regime and I thought this would have given her a unique perspective or something. She has always said that the major flaw in the Soviet system, and the real reason for its downfall, was the non availability of a communist equivalent of the KFC Bargain Bucket. She also says that Komsomol (the youth wing of the Communist Party) is misspelt several times. Frankly, I had hoped she'd have a bit more than this to say about the book.

The other reviews describe the book well. All I'll say is that I expected more about the regime, whereas it's(of course) a love story. Enjoyable enough for all that, but it makes you wonder about the those who didn't survive at all. The overwhelming greyness and claustrophobia of Soviet existence is very well conveyed, and as a sometime student of those times, I found that, like a good novel, it illuminated the realities of lfe there and then much better than many a history.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 27 Jul 2012 20:46:21 BDT
Just like the reviewer I expected to find out more about the regime but it is just a tedious documentary. I agree that the book conveys "greyness and claustrophobia" of the former USSR - the book itself is grey and claustrophobic. I cannot really understand how others labelled this book "a great love story" ; it feels like a newspaper article expanded over 200 pages. I come from this part of Europe - at times I felt that this book needs annotations - most of the abbreviations did not make any sense to me at all.
English is not my mother tongue, yet I did not have to look up words in the dictionary, the narration is simple. The book lacks "colour".

I lived in the Eastern Bloc under the Soviet occupation, and I expected to read a love story about two common people, but this pair went to university in Moscow, and to do this you had to be part of the elite, so to imagine that this is somehow, representative of ordinary Soviet life (and love) is mistaken. If Lev and Sveta had been true proles this story would never have been told, worse things happened to common people and, of course, their stories didn't survive.

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Sep 2012 00:50:39 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Sep 2012 00:51:18 BDT
Alexa says:
You are mistaken in thinking that no "true proletarians" wrote about their experiences. Anatoly Marchenko was arrested fairly randomly after a brawl at a workers' hostel (the true perpetrators having already fled) and sentenced to the Gulag. He was so incensed by this injustice that he he wrote an account of his experiences, and attempted to flee to the West, in order to get it published. He was intercepted, arrested, and sentenced to another term - this time as a political prisoner.

He survived his second sentence - and wrote another book, as an account of these experiences. A third book detailed his struggles to survive in freedom, as a relatively uneducated man, with no influential connections, burdened by the disgrace of these convictions. So far I have only managed to find a copy of his first book My Testimony - but it is well worth reading.
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