The Girl who Would be Russian and Other Stories
A community of elderly Russians, fugitives from the Revolution and from Stalin, lives in little Plankton, Maine. There they reminisce, nurse their grievances against the world and each other, and relate tentatively to the rest of America. Johnson tells their stories with great humor, compassion, and sorrow for the lost world they represent, however illusory it actually was. The result is a heartwarming book that skirts but never trespasses into sentimentality. Most of the seven stories are richly comic, such as the title tale and "Prayer for the Dying" (an O'Henry Award winner). Yet the last two pieces, "Heir to the Realm," a poignant quasifantasy linking the community's three most interesting women, and "The Last Song of Exile," about a much-wronged old man's descent into suspicious madness, surprise with their grave power. ISBN 0-15-135691-2: $15.95.
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