For many Americans, their uninformed impression and expectations regarding the city of Moscow - whether they have been there or not - the expectation is that the center of the Communist world is dreary, gray, snowy sidewalks, long lines at virtually every store, and cranky, unhappy party members who would secretly all prefer to live in Miami or New York. Amor Towles graceful roman á chambre A Gentleman in Moscow sets us down in a sweet city of European traditions, old friends, and the genteel elegance of a classic world weary hotel. The protagonist, a former count, discredited by the new communist regime, is 'exiled' in 1922 to a room in the Hotel
Metropole, where you can still savor a glass of Chateau d'Yquem and an excellent roasted duck. The Count, Alexander Ilyich Rostov, is an unfailing gentlemen who resists any force that might upset him. His cheerful outlook is unshakable. How his decade long personal life in exile entwines with the management of the hotel, his loves and friendships, and especially his improbable relationship with an infant he is pressed into service to raise, forms a moving, engaging tale. It's a sort of an old fashioned novel; not flashy or in any way experimental; just rich, graceful prose, that leaves you longing to be there in the Metropole with the count and his friends, enjoying a late night Cognac and sweet conversation. The ending is satisfying and appropriate, but really irrelevant. In the best possible way, the story is really about the journey; Rostov's ability to not only survive, but to do so in style and with endless charm.
The structure of the novel leads one to believe that A Gentleman in Moscow might make a good candidate for a TV series. Are you listening A&E?
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
(Review from Amazon.com) Long before he was the taco seller whose ‘Gringo Dog’ recipe made him famous throughout Mexico City, our hero was an aspiring artist: an artist, that is, till his would-be girlfriend was stolen by Diego Rivera, and his dreams snuffed out by his hypochondriac mother. Now our hero is resident in a retirement home, where fending off boredom is far more grueling than making tacos. Plagued by the literary salon that bumps about his building’s lobby and haunted by the self-pitying ghost of a neglected artist, Villalobos’s old man can’t help but misbehave: he antagonises his neighbors, tortures American missionaries with passages from Adorno, and flirts with the revolutionary greengrocer. A delicious take-down of pretensions to cultural posterity, I’ll Sell You a Dog is a comic novel whose absurd inventions, scurrilous antics and oddball characters are vintage Villalobos.