The publishers are billing this as ""fictional nonfiction""--a much more appropriate epithet than ""novel"" since there's nothing here faintly resembling a plot. Moscow Farewell is rather a memoir and love letter to Mother Russia, where Feifer, like the narrator, did his graduate work for Harvard's Center for Soviet Studies before being harassed by the KGB and ultimately deported. Very near the end of the sojourn, Feifer compares himself to Chekhov's obsessive Trigorin: ""I wonder why I too feel compelled to see and memorize every detail,"" he writes. For anything and everything about Soviet life falls within his purview in this ail-encompassing attempt to understand the paradoxes and enigmas of that other society. The chapters are organized by character rather than chronologically or any other kind of logically. You will hear the stories of some fellow-students, but the characters most important are Alyosha, an aging Don Juan who arranges hair-raising nightly orgies for the two friends, and his mercurial Anastasia, whom he loses precisely because of that peculiar menage. And even they are seen through the sociological glass, darkly, in this sweeping series of photojournalistic observations, a more animated approach than statistics to illuminate the Russian mind and engrossing on that count.