After working for Time magazine in London, Wendell Steavenson spent two years in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Stories I Stole captures the exuberance of a fledgling nation of local despots, mountain tribes, blood feuds, and an unlimited flow of red wine. From President Shevardnadze's rigged elections to horse races high in the mountains; from the eerie roadside artifacts of the Soviet era to the farcical power outages in the dead of winter, here is Georgia: weird, invigorating, and still coming to grips with the legacy of its most famous son, Joseph Stalin. Far more than a travel book, this is a scintillating menagerie of true stories peopled by vivid -- and sometimes insane -- characters. In the beach resort of Sukhumi, once the destination of every fashionable Russian but now wrecked by civil war, Wendell plays hangman with a secret policeman. In the capital, Tbilisi -- ensconced in Levan's Magic Room or lounging in the steam baths -- she hears about the latest duel or kidnapping. In Khevsureti, the meadows are dotted with blue-painted beehives and yellow flowers, while just over the border there is war in Chechnya. Stories I Stole is a candid, engaging, and quietly lyrical book about a land and its people.
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WENDELL STEAVENSON is a freelance writer based in Africa. A former London correspondent for Time magazine, she spent two years living in the Georgian capital, Tiblisi.From Publishers Weekly:
In this collection of wine-soaked stories, former Time journalist Steavenson recounts her adventurous two years living in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Few journalists would have the gumption to do on assignment what the now 32-year-old Steavenson did on a whim-leave a job in Time's London office in the late 1990s for the relatively volatile region of the Caucasus. Her reward is a book, her first, that Chekhov himself would have admired. With a keen journalistic eye and a poetic flair for capturing every detail of her surroundings, Steavenson adeptly renders a vibrant if rather depressed culture amid the detritus of a collapsed superpower. The book is replete with harsh winters, hot summers, rolling blackouts from a shortage of electricity and a crumbling infrastructure, plentiful vodka and bad cigarettes, hearty friends, and an endless number of LAOs (large abandoned objects): bits of rusting pipeline, tractors, half-built bridges, "the debris of the Soviets, the husk of an empire." While each story seems to contain within it several others, most compelling are Steavenson's encounters with Chechen refugees and fighters after the second Russian war in Chechnya broke out. A chapter on the fixed election of "career communist" turned "western media darling" Eduard Shevardnadze is also insightful. Despite its title, it's clear these stories are anything but stolen. And Steavenson returns the favor. After turning down a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, a photographer, he sends her 1,000 roses-a stunning gesture that is surely still recalled among Georgians. This is a remarkable first effort from a writer to watch.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Grove Press, 2003. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0802117376
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