Fans of Russian absurdist satire will most enjoy this offbeat, if uneven, debut.

Selected Episodes Relating to the LIfe of Vladimir Daniilovich Myukis, Deceased

Marcus’ debut novel depicts the aimless life of a third-rate Russian artist.

The author states on the book’s back cover that he was inspired by a visit to a museum that contained a great deal of very bad art; the artworks’ only notable characteristic was their enormous size. Vladimir Daniilovich Myukis, nicknamed Volodya, appears to be Marcus’ imagining of the sort of artist who would create such work. Volodya, orphaned in World War II, is rescued from gang life by a policeman who notices his skill at drawing and maneuvers him into an art school run by the Soviet NKVD police agency. Volodya later spends most of his adult life working in the art department of an auto manufacturer—a front for the KGB—but eventually he makes his way to Brooklyn, N.Y., after the fall of the Soviet Union. He ends his days there working in a Jewish delicatessen. The high point of his life is a love affair, brutally cut short when his ex-KGB fiancee is transferred to parts unknown just two weeks before their planned wedding. In the end, virtually all his paintings are destroyed. Whenever he paints a mural, the building is inevitably razed or shelled, and when he stores his paintings in a garage, its Pakistani owner is mistakenly picked up for “extraordinary rendition” and his property confiscated. When he makes a major sale of animal paintings, they’re used for target practice by hunters impressed by their realism. There’s little in the way of drama here; the story is told in a mock-documentary style, and its nonlinear structure forces the narrative into discrete episodes. The author ably depicts the hopelessness of life in the Soviet Union, but in the end, he doesn’t clarify Volodya’s relationship to his art—is he a bad artist because he has little talent, because he has no muse, or because his bureaucratic superiors thwart him?

Fans of Russian absurdist satire will most enjoy this offbeat, if uneven, debut.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1479721535

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2013

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.


A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

When Mallory Aldiss gets a call from a long-ago boyfriend telling her that her elderly father has been gallivanting around town with a gun in his hand, Mallory decides it’s time to return to the small Rhode Island town that she’s been avoiding for more than a decade. Mallory’s precocious 13-year-old daughter, Joy, is thrilled that she'll get to meet her grandfather at long last, and an aunt, too, and she'll finally see the place where her mother grew up. When they arrive in Bay Bluff, it’s barely a few hours before Mallory bumps into her old flame, Jack, the only man she’s ever really loved. Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult. As they try to reconnect, Mallory realizes that the same obstacle that pushed them apart decades earlier is still standing in their way: Jack blames Mallory’s father for his mother’s death. No one knows exactly how Jack’s mother died, but Jack thinks a love affair between her and Mallory’s father had something to do with it. As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Told entirely from Mallory’s perspective, the novel has a haunting, nostalgic quality. Despite the complex and overlapping layers to the history of Bay Bluff and its inhabitants, the book at times trudges too slowly through Mallory’s meanderings down Memory Lane. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through. Readers who don’t mind skimming past details that do little to advance the plot may find that the juicier nuggets and realistically rendered human connections are worth the effort.

A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11951-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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