PARALLAX by Vladimir Yurasov


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The Germans, the Irish, the Russians--they are preeminent in writing vast books about national struggles, botched illusions, and impossible romance. The setting for this is the Stalinist terror of the early post-war years, centered initially in Berlin, with the later locales shifting between the Soviet Union and West Germany. Thus, the title. Parallax: ""The apparent displacement (or the difference in apparent direction) of an object, as seen from two different points."" Feodor, the young, battle-weary hero makes a number of leaden-footed journeys before he comes to terms with history, politics, and his tumultuous heart. Katia, the heroine, a married woman who succumbs to Feodor, her ""grand passion,"" undergoes palpitating exhanges with doubt, guilt, border crossings, and moist-eyed affirmation. These two upright, handsomecreatures toil amidst a variety of sub-plots, operatic glimpses of bureaucratic ogres and sinister police, as well as meandering sagas about disenchanted Russians hoping for better days and an end to the melancholic misery of militant Communism. The novel is overburdened with dialogue, adventures, ""suspense,"" and enough exits and entrances for a train terminal. Properly reduced it might make an entertaining film (there are some good cinematic stretches); as fiction, however, despite the evident earnestness of the emigre author to produce a poignant East-West commentary, Parallax remains paralyzingly old hat. Feodor and Katia settle in NY on a nice note of Tolstoyan humanism.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1966
Publisher: Norton