Just emailed Oleg Atbashian to tell him I finished reading his autobiographical tome, Hotel USSR, and am now going through it a second time to make notes for use in my review of it here, which I should have up probably in another week, maybe two. And MAN ALIVE, but this book is powerful indeed! It’s written in a straightforward, matter-of-fact style, which only serves to intensify the impact of the relentless brutality and inhumanity chronicled therein.
I’ve been reading and excerpting Oleg’s People’s Cube humor blog for years now, and never realized that he grew up in the Ukraine, and was born the same year I was. Our upbringing and youthful experience as Children of the 60s and 70s couldn’t have been more different, alas for him.
No matter how well-informed you might be, how carefully and thoroughly you’ve educated yourself about what life might be like under full-bore totalitarian tyranny, Oleg’s story comes at you like a sharp punch in the gut. As far along the same dismal road as the US has come, let me assure you that we have no idea what it was like for the victims of the heartless thuggery and oppression that was simply the stuff of everyday existence in the Soviet Union. It’s monstrous, no more nor less. How people like Oleg managed to get through it all with their souls and spirits still relatively intact and functioning is far beyond my ken.
Yet more baffling, and infuriating, is our domestic Useful Idiots who continue to this day to lobby hard for a Made In America emulation of this abominable regime. The clueless dolts know not what they wish for, a truth that Hotel Russia makes perfectly clear. God forbid that they should ever get their way. Every last one of them should be forced to read it, with a gun at their heads if need be.
More to come as and when, folks.