Rory MacLean's uncle was a Soviet spy, his aunt a faded Austrian aristocrat. They lived in furious, frustrated retirement in a rambling house filled with animals in Potsdam, Prussia's Versailles. In their youth they stole secrets from Stalin and changed history. He visited them briefly as he passed through Berlin en route from the Baltic to the Black Sea. He was travelling along the line of the old Iron Curtain, writing about the Eastern European revolutions. But his aunt, a vivacious eccentric, would not be left behind. In her rattling Trabant, accompanied by her pet pig, they moved across the continent, following the threads of memory. Her remarkable East European relations - the angel of Prague, a Hungarian grave digger, a dying Romanian propagandist - help tie together the loose ends of her life. They picknicked at Auschwitz, they met Lenin's embalmer and they visited an impoverished Czech town. This book is a documentary of their journey and a history of Eastern Europe. Its portrayal of subjugated peoples at a time of great change, of their fears of the past and hopes for the future, illustrates the icy comedy of human existence.
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An exceptionally vivid story of a journey from the Baltic to the Black Sea, between Berlin and Moscow, through an eastern Europe divested of fear and free to face its past.
"The wittiest, most surreal travel writing of recent years"
"With the unlikely cast of a Tamworth pig, a coffin, two elderly aunts and a battered Trabant, Rory MacLean creates a fantastic tableau that embraces the horrors, betrayals and ironies of modern East European history. 'Stalin's Nose' is a dark, sardonic and brilliant book which grows in stature with every page"
"The farce with which Rory MacLean often clothes his narrative is a metaphor for the much blacker and indeed surreal comedy of the Communist years. As an allegory it is powerful and frequently moving. As a tale it is tremendous fun"
"A Gogolesque tour in a Trabant"
"It is a painful book of bitter old ages, of lives which have had their meanings repeatedly declared void. It is very hard and very good"
Rory MacLean was born in Vancouver and has lived in Toronto, London, Berlin, Italy and the Hebrides. He trained as a screenwriter, but during the premiere of his last feature film his mother fell asleep and his girlfriend ran off with the financier. Not surprisingly, he took a holiday. He returned with the manuscript of ‘Stalin’s Nose’, which won the Yorkshire Post’s Best First Work prize. ‘The most extraordinary debut in travel writing since “In Patagonia”,’ wrote reviewer William Dalrymple.
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Book Description FLAMINGO, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0006545173