A widows` steam boat
book — USSR — 1981

This is one of the books that I have bound myself. No, I haven`t started a new career in book binding but when I persuaded my mother to throw out some of the junk lying in the pantry next to my room (mostly that concerned old literary magazines from the soviet years) she wanted to cut out some of the contents and then have it bound in the form of books. Probably it wasn``t exactly the brightest idea for having a book bound costs more than simply buying a book. Anyhow, I decided to spare some costs and do a little binding of my own. First I tried it on Boris Pasternak`s "Doctor Zhivago" (which I intend to read at some time in the near future), and after that proved to be quite a success I bound some other stuff as well (and that was less of a success, of course). So what is a "widows` steam botat"? It`s a novel/long story written by a Soviet writer/mathematician who used a pseudonim that could be translated into English as "Miss Y". The story revolves mostly around several women living in a communal flat (a very typical case for the USSR). The main hero is a woman that has lost her entire family in WW2 and is now partly crippled herself. Then there`s four other women - a religous one, a physically advanced and rude one, a romantic one and one that had participated in the war herself and returned with a child who`s father wasn`t her husband who returned from the war quite late himself but he didn`t have the strength to start a new relationship with his wife, so he started drinking heavily until he got run over and killed by a tram (just like Berlioz in Bulgakov`s "Master and Margarita"). The story itself is nothing special - a typical everyday life of typical everyday persons, struggling to remain alive. There`s nothing particulary Soviet about it - there`s no communist pathos anywhere in sight, it`s just the life of the little people. I`m not sure whether I`m one of the little people myself, but the book comes off as a very sincere piece of literature, far from earth shattering, of course, but just as it`s the case with "Bednyy, bednyy Pavel" that I wrote about earlier - not the worst possible way to spend your time.
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