Sunday, January 26, 2014
Apricot Jam - Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
If there's one thing a 16 year old can be sure of relating to it's the crushing unfairness of life when you're on the wrong side of Stalin. I've read 'One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich' many times since and still find it a powerful book but I never got much further with Solzhenitsyn. I got a review copy of 'Apricot Jam and other stories' sometime late in 2012, read the title story and no further but recent attempts to tidy up unearthed the book and made me think about it again.
What I realised reading 'Apricot Jam' was just how much 'One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich' had coloured my view of communism - the distinction between Stalin and communism was more than my 16 year old self was likely to grasp (George Orwell didn't help either). 'Apricot Jam' expressed that same burning sense of unfairness - it was all very terrible, depressing, and Russian. Life not being fair is still something I find it easy to relate too but when I first tried to read this book it was certainly one a distraction. I'm not sure why but I don't think I expected Solzhenitsyn to still be having the same conversation, maybe because when I was 16 the cold war was journalism rather than history and because reading this no longer had the shock value that 'One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich' had for me when I first encountered it. Whatever the reasons I found it impossible to evaluate this book but having found it again it's definitely time to put it back on the tbr pile and have another go.