Vassily Aksyonov The New Sweet Style

ISBN 13: 9780679444015

The New Sweet Style

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9780679444015: The New Sweet Style
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Few writers enjoy the kind of international praise and prestige that Russian émigré novelist Vassily Aksyonov has earned for his previ-ous books. In his latest and most surprising novel, The New Sweet Style, Alexander Korbach--a singer/composer/playwright adored by the counterculture in Moscow and reviled by the Communist powers-that-were--comes to the United States to start over and to search for new ways of pursuing his art.
    
No one is at the airport to meet him. Oh, well. Sasha soon discovers that he's a distant cousin of a rich American retailer with an elegant flagship store in New York. But before he can "capitalize" on this connection, Sasha has to work as a garage attendant in Santa Monica, deal with his Russian ex-wife, face down the KGB, get in bed with the KGB, and drink a goodly  portion of vodka now and again (and again).
    
With his inimitably hilarious and melancholy sensibility, Vassily Aksyonov draws a sharp portrait of a flawed but resilient hero who wanders through his new homeland in search of happiness and an audience for his work. It's a  perfect, wise vision of a world that somehow manages to grow smaller and crazier with every passing day.

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Review:

Vassily Aksyonov (Generations of Winter) is clearly a man of vast ambitions: his writing has an invigorating wildness, veering off into the stratosphere at regular intervals. Aksyonov was forced to leave Russia in the '80s because his work was considered too controversial for publication. One senses there is nothing he would not satirize, even the "great Russian writer" aristocracy he so clearly sees himself descending from. At times his remarkable, frustrating The New Sweet Style seems composed in great Russian writer drag--an elaborate and garish parody of the old style, a fabulous product of that country's strange vanishing.

At the novel's shifting center is Alexander Korbach, a director-folksinger-Renaissance man who has been forced out of Russia and seeks fame in America. He steps off the plane in New York expecting to be greeted by the press, but they're entirely focused on a tennis player, and in this sad passage Aksyonov beautifully renders his exaggerated sense of his own importance:

Korbach dragged his suitcase on its little trolley around the terminal for no less than an hour and drank water from a fountain so that he wouldn't have to order a Coke in English, until the staggering thought hit him: No one is meeting me here! Yet Maurice told me that they would! That there had been loads of reports in the American press! Every American he met had exclaimed: "Alexander Korbach! It's a great name in the States!"
The New Sweet Style is a long, sometimes confusing book, but its pleasures are vast, its multitude of characters consistently engaging and distinct even as they crowd in on one another. Aksyonov occasionally engages in metafictional asides that can be intrusive, like someone talking during a movie. But when he shuts up, the sounds and colors flourish and his world becomes as vivid as a spinning vodka dream. --Emily White

From the Back Cover:


Praise for The Winter's Hero

"One of the great historical novels of our time."
        --The Boston Globe

Praise for Generations of Winter

"I'm prepared to believe this novel will live for a very long time, and be seen as one of the more significant historical and literary achievements of a terrible century."
        --John Banville, The New York Review of Books

"Aksyonov has ambitiously set out to challenge Tolstoy on his own ground, creating a gigantic historical novel on the grand pre-Revolutionary model. . . . A riveting and profoundly moral work."


--The Wall Street Journal

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