Smoke Paperback – Apr 19 1995
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About the Author
John Reed was the kind of man who, one instant, might touch you to your very core -- send a symphony into the marrow of your bones. But he was also the type who, the next instant, might prove exasperatingly shallow. Such was his sad contradiction. There he'd be reciting something truly something -- but reciting it at the exclusive room of the trendiest possible of-the-second club to an audience of those beautiful and ambitious New Yorkers who, though not always successful at it, were the most "willing, " in the name of glory, to lead lives unexamined and vapid.
His tragic and untimely demise unfolded at a juncture when I was most disgusted with him -- for not a month earlier, his reprehensible behavior had ended our relationship. One that had seemed riddled...well, with potential.
He could be a boy sometimes, standing as he would have in 1977, a child of the Manhattan wasteland -- a body filthy and lean, and trying to discover for itself honor in the void. This aspect of his work had been of interest to me. And since, during the course of our romance, we discussed our writing with each other, I became quite familiar with his proposal for "Duh Whole" -- the tale of a girl gone awry, and a great big hole. Hence, it was not unexpectedly (the prospect of finishing the unfinished works of expired authors ever-tempting) that I was approached the very minute John first coughed (with luck, it'd be a foreshadowing of consumption and doom). His outline proved surprisingly complete, and having no book deal of my own, I was soon secured in the effort -- and with John's institutionalization and rapid decline, I was given the green light. If you like my work, you might look for other novels ostensibly by Reed, such as "Snowball's Chance" and "A Still Small Voice, " which, incidentally, I also wrote. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
The story is a good story of the leading circles of Russia at the time both the military elite and what was happening to the serfs and the love triangles which surrounded many of the leading generals at the time and it shows the meeting places of Russians as they met outside Russia and their passions and loves. Irina doesn't come across as that genuine a character where as she wants to keep her husband and yet wants to keep her lover and breaks up his marriage to Tanya who comes across as a used figure by Litvinov who deserves better than what she got. Interesting novel gives us much information on the lives of Russians in mid 19th century Russia and of the military elite and their spouses and friends and behaviors. I enjoyed the novel a good read for those interested in 19th century fiction or Russian literature as there are few russian to equal Turgenev.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, a scene in chapter 26 (which gives the book its name) features one of the loveliest passages I have yet encountered in literature. It is a brief passage in which Litvinov, the main character, returning to Russia with his spirit crushed by the circumstances of his ill-fated trip to Baden-Baden, has a reverie prompted by the sight of the smoke he sees outside the train window. As is often the case with Turgenev's writing, it is a simple scene but one laden with humanity and warmth.
(BTW: It is also worthwhile to examine this book in connection with Leonid Tsypkin's "Summer in Baden-Baden" which discusses the meeting there between Turgenev and Dostoevsky.)
It also bothers me that the publisher that reprinted, with more typos than you'd expect, a Garnett translation beyond copyright protection instead of hiring someone to do a more credible job. (I don't know how good of a translation this is, but Garnett's reputation is not one of fidelity.)