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The Green Lantern: A Romance Of Stalinist Russia [Paperback]

Jerome Charyn


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Book Description

Oct. 24 2005
Jerome Charyn is known for his paeans to the workingman. Here is another work in that tradition, about a simple prop manager who finds himself unexpectedly—and literally—pushed into the spotlight, and a player in world history. When Ivan Azerbaijan, known as Ivanushka, first set out for Moscow, he hoped for nothing more than to build sets for his mentor's production of King Lear. But when the lead falls suddenly ill, Ivanushka steps in and finds his performance the talk of Moscow. He falls under the scrutiny of Joseph Stalin, who allows starlet Valentina Michaelson to join the cast as Cordelia. Ivanushka is thrust headlong into the world of intrigue, terror, and distrust that was Stalin's Soviet Union. Charyn depicts both the romance between Valentina and Ivan and the chaos of life under Stalin's watchful eyes with similar style, making the fear and confusion palpable in this audacious winter's tale. The Green Lantern is an exploration of Shakespeare, the Soviet Union, and what it is to "perform," by one of the great American writers.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (Oct. 24 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560257954
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560257950
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 14.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,880,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Political intrigue and personal jealousy thrive under Stalin's dread stare in this lively new novel by veteran author Charyn (The Isaac Quartet; Death of a Tango King; etc.). Ivan Azerbaijan is a poor boy from the mountains who comes to Moscow with a traveling theater troupe to build sets for a new production of King Lear. When the theater troupe's leader is incapacitated, the six-foot-six Ivanushka, or "Little Ivan," is thrust into the role of Lear and discovers a talent for acting that makes the humble production the toast of Moscow's elite. Ivanushka attracts so much attention that Joseph Stalin himself descends to the tiny theater. Impressed, Stalin releases the sultry starlet Valentina Michaelson from house arrest to play Cordelia to Ivanushka's Lear. Soon Ivanushka, in love with Michaelson, finds himself surrounded by spies, apparatchiks and power brokers who negotiate to stay in Stalin's favor—a dangerous game, for inevitably Stalin "falls upon whatever person he admires." Charyn's Moscow is full of personalities, from the elusive Michaelson and the manipulative Vladimir Rustaveli, who takes Ivanushka under his wing, to the steely and erratic Stalin. Throughout, Charyn keeps the intrigue front and center—who will be arrested next, who will sleep with whom—but the unconsummated, wordy love affair between Michaelson and Ivanushka eventually stalls some of the book's momentum.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Prolific Charyn's historical novel is set primarily in Moscow during the 1930s--the era of greatest paranoia in the Soviet Union. The romance of the subtitle is between two actors: Ivan Azerbaijan, a Georgian, actually, who takes Moscow by storm while acting in a bowdlerized version of King Lear; and Valentina Michaelson, who had incurred Stalin's wrath by abandoning the Soviet Union for Hollywood. Despite her return, she is exiled to a Mosfilm back lot. Besides Stalin, major Soviet political and cultural figures of the era also play key roles in the story as the intrigue, which left many Muscovites of that time wondering if they too would succumb to the terror, is firmly played out in the story line. Charyn's depiction of the madness of the times is so on-target that the reader undeniably senses the characters' paranoia and confusion. Most important, we see in this powerful novel that evil is neither banal nor sensational but comes in many guises. Frank Caso
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best historical novels I've read May 7 2005
By F. Isikdag - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I can't disagree more with the Washington Post review. I started reading it because I had nothing else better to do and then suddenly I was transported into Stalinist era of the 1930s. I feel I need to find out what I can about this author who has achieved something close to witchcraft by re-creating the psychological (un)reality of that era. I almost laughed when I read the reviewer's complaints about how the details don't add to the intrigue/suspense. There is NO suspense; only the utter illogic of possible imminent violent end to one's life for no reason which IS the definition of the Stalinist era. How this guy called Jerome Charyn about whom I know nothing accomplish this in a rather slim book much better than all the volumes of Solzhenitsyn who was actually there, I have no idea.

Fatma Isikdag

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