QUITE THE OTHER WAY by Kaylie Jones

QUITE THE OTHER WAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A hard-cover debut for the author, daughter of novelist James Jones: a portrait of contemporary Russia, as seen through the eyes of an American student, that's carefully, even evocatively written--but that ultimately fails due to the narrowness of its narrator. Of course, Clinton Gray is young, which partly explains her lack of insight--just 25, the daughter of a famous writer who covered WW II from behind Soviet lines; she embarks on a Russian study-abroad program, not because she's a serious student of the country, but because she's interested in learning more about her father, who died ten years earlier. Arrived at the Institute, swaddled in thick American coats against the Moscow cold, she begins to master life in glasnost Russia: avoiding the listening device in her room, visiting friends of friends in cramped apartments across the city, and finding the only decent groceries, books, and vodka that Moscow has to offer at stores open to foreign visitors exclusively. She falls in love with a fellow student, promotes a romance between an American girlfriend and a Russian merchant marine, observes the intolerance-created furtiveness of homosexuals, and at last unearths a piece of her personal past when she meets the woman whom her father loved during the war. Alas, Jones offers clear close-ups of Russia and the Russians all too infrequently; and the rest comes to us filtered through Clinton's self-referential haze. The result is ennui, instead of the sharpened ambivalence about the USSR that Jones must have meant to foster.

Pub Date: March 24th, 1989
Publisher: Doubleday