Growing up in the USSR

The Girl from the Metropol Hotel: Growing Up in Communist Russia - Ludmilla Petrushevskaya

Well, this does explain some of those wonderful stories that Petrushevskaya writes.

Petrushevskaya's memoir is about her early years - her family's fall from grace, her birth, her life during war time. She lived as a half feral child for several years. But like in her stories, her use of language is beautiful and her comments on life searing.

"We ate glue in secret because of the rumor that it was flavored with real cherries" (22) she writes describing how scare food was, especially for her family with members imprisoned under the regime. It is so bad that at night, she is sent to the garbage pail in the kitchen to take the leavings left by the other family. One night she sees two dolls left by the garbage - her own dolls and horse were nothing really (her horse was made out of cardboard). She stares rapt - "Now, I know what a doll means to a girl: It is her tame goddess" she writes just before she reveals she had to leave these two goddesses.

The memoir is like her short fiction - magical, powerful, shocking, provoking, and a wonder.