INSIDE THE SOVIET WRITERS' UNION by John & Carol Garrard Garrard


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This dully written, fact-choked look from the outside at the Soviet Writers' Union is unable to step back from its subjects; the Garrards have their foreheads to the glass and never take an ironic breath. But everything you wanted to know--and more--about this extremely cozy and influential piece of the Russian apparat is here: its dismal history of inquisition (writers make wonderful policemen when they're not creatively engaged: let no one rise higher than me), the daily perks, the Soviet publishing system, the dizzying array of editorial knives a poor manuscript passes under as though a dead chicken in a slaughterhouse. Gorbachev's attempts to reform the Union with glasnost and perestroika are, as elsewhere in the society, striking; as are the Garrards' tales of individual heroism when union members have (infrequently) protested some shabby treatment or other. For the most part, though, it's a book that better might have been a magazine article, hampered as it is by non-first-hand experience.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1990
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan