04 February 2010

11. House of Meetings

House of Meetings - Martin Amis

This is a story of two half-brothers and their common love interest during the Stalin regime and afterwards of the Soviet Union. The brothers live in Moscow, both end up in a Soviet gulag in Siberia, and then later spend thier lives trying to get their act together.

The novel is written like a narrative, think of a very long letter, to the protagonist's step-daughter in America. He writes about his time in the Soviet Army where he fought against the Nazis. He writes about his time in the gulag. He writes about his sucesses and failures after finally being freed after decades of slavery.

All the while he is in love with a Jewish girl named Zoya. Zoya later ends up as Lev's (his half-brother) wife.

Wait a minute...I just realized...I have no idea what the protagonist's name is. I don't think he ever said what it was. Interesting.

I also found it interesting that in the beginning of the book the writer says that it is bad form for someone to "quote themselves". Throughout the book when there are conversations between the writer and others he will quote them and paraphrase his own half of the conversation. It was interesting to read it this way.

The writer also references Dostoevsky and Nabakov on numerous occasions. Famous Russian writers, which the protagonist wishes to be, since he is writing all this "stuff".

I also found it interesting on a personal level to read about a man named Georgi Zhukov. This was Marshal Zhukov fromt he Great Patriotic War (WWII). He was the Russian Patton or MacArthur. He is the man credited with winning the war with the Nazis. Why was he interesting to me? Well, while we were in Ukraine for a month in 2008 we lived at a hotel in Kharkov. The metro station we used every day was called Marshala Zhukova. It was named after this man. There were statues of him all over the place. We also went to a WWII museum outside Kharkov where Zhukov's strategy was hailed. Here is a photo of one of the statues that I took while in Ukraine.

Here is the metro station....

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