Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin by Rail

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9780385414654: Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin by Rail

Morris present an unforgettable account of her 1986 trip through China, Russia, and Eastern Europe. As in Nothing to Declare, her celebrated travelogue of South America, Morris combines vivid portrayals of people and historical portraits of Soviet events with a more personal journey--her search for roots, family, and her ancestral home in the Ukraine. Reading tour.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

The further travels of Morris, short-story writer and novelist (The Bus of Dreams, 1985, etc.) and author of Nothing to Declare, which documented her adventures as a woman alone on the road in Central America. Morris's brand of travelogue is again unique, never a simple summoning up of pretty landscapes, but rather an intensely personal portrait of self in foreign climes, carrying a full load of emotional baggage. Beijing is her jumping-off point for a journey on the Trans- Siberian Railroad, taking her through Mongolia, over the Urals to Moscow, Leningrad, and at last to the Ukraine--birthplace of her Russian Jewish grandmother. Alas, ten days before she leaves, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster puts the later part of her itinerary in jeopardy. But she perseveres, finding China frustrating since her train tickets aren't forthcoming and she's separated from her ``companion,'' a somewhat ambivalent significant other from back in New York. Her long days on the train across Siberia are a wash of listlessness and garrulous fellow passengers. It isn't until she reaches Moscow that she realizes the Ukraine is too dangerous to attempt, particularly when she discovers she's pregnant. In Leningrad she meets refuseniks and a gentleman who wants to buy her underwear from her, since his girlfriend likes American lingerie. And finally in Berlin she accepts that she'll never reclaim her childhood by visiting her grandmother's homeland--a sorrow tempered by her decision to keep her baby, whether her companion marries her or not. This pre-glasnost travelogue is decidedly grim, solitary, and internal, hardly so high-stepping as Morris's account of her wanderings in Central America. Still, it's an interesting installment in the story of how she changes as she moves over the earth, raising expectations for a third volume documenting future journeys, perhaps with a baby on board. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Readers of Morris's Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Travelling Alone will also be delighted with her new travel memoir, in which the author, with a superb command of language, imaginatively recreates a world few have ventured to. Embarking on a search in 1986 for her Russian ancestors, she found herself in the midst of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and observing the last vestiges of the Cold War. Her details are interesting both on the public scale--such as when she visits the Russian poet Andrei Voznesensky--and on the private, as when she meets an unnamed former fighter in the Bolshevik revolution wandering the streets of Leningrad. She describes the histories of each city she visited on her extensive train journey: Moscow, Leningrad, the Forbidden Imperial Citysic of China. With eloquence, Morris characterizes the people she meets, making each real. She has the rare touch of the true travel writer: readers will feel they've walked along the Great Wall of China with her, tasted sand from the Gobi Desert as it flew in a Trans-Siberian Express window, glimpsed the Berlin Wall from the Eastern side. And perhaps most intriguing are the intimations of changes to come--the beginnings of endings that were just around the corner.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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