THE MOSCOW SCENE by Geoffrey Bocca


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This latest guide to Moscow offers much in the way of anecdote but little of the insight a traveler needs to enjoy unraveling the ""riddle inside an enigma"" that is Russia. The anecdotes are amusing, if not original--a conventional collection of cleverly written ""ain't it awful"" exposes on Soviet drinking, driving, monuments, metros, black marketeers, Intourist guides, marriage customs, clothing, styles, orthodontia, and spies. Along the way the author relates a curious encounter with some members of Moscow's privileged class, but he seems neither able nor anxious to explain what it was all about. Interspersed with the levity are several long and pointedly unsympathetic sections on Western defectors living in Moscow, crime, and the national press. Bocca professes to love Moscow, ""in your shabby, dotty, horrible, repulsive, lovable way. . ."" but maintains that its residents survive only by regular escape to the countryside, ""among stubbly fields, stringy trees, and monotonous views."" Muscovites are shoddily clad and ill-mannered, the beer is ghastly, the young men are undersexed and stunted, the city itself is the clip joint of the civilized world. There is nothing new about all this, which is part of the problem. More to the point, Moscow and its people have a lot to offer beside bad teeth and a black market. And there is no dearth of intelligent literature to prove it.

Pub Date: July 20th, 1976
Publisher: Stein & Day