This one morning, in the mind sweltering stages of wrapping up three projects, I woke up in earnest need to find a pacifying read. And not that the three pieces I worked on weren’t the most pleasing and gratifying to write and read, it was the work around the work causing me to see doubles. I didn’t have to ask around. I needed something soothing my eyes hadn’t seen before, to read.
First I surfed the Net, coming up with… 10 Cool Things No One Tells You About Getting Older.
…loved the article, except I wanted more. …More as in a solid story to follow. Normally I keep away from radical reading during this time. Heavy reading I do during off-peak seasons. Needing this instant reprieve, I looked over at my desk. A stack of books faced me. The ones next up to read. I started flipping through them, looking for a short, straightforward, sweet interesting one. And of course, it had to be a memoir. Fiction I strictly reserve for off-peak moments. Other genres simply wouldn’t offset the mood I was in.
So, I kept flipping through, and turning over books until I came to one I found at the bottom of the stack. I put it there after opening it and finding out much of the text in the first half of the book had been underlined. Perhaps the reader gave up on it, but I didn’t. I loved the book. Turned out to be just the balance I needed.
Anyone looking for a genuine memoir may also want to read FAMILY MATTERS and More… Stories of my Life in Soviet Russia by Sol Tetelbaum.
Solomon delivered what he promised, stories that made me laugh and cry as he personified (for me) in a melodic tune how “every cloud has a silver lining.”
At times, while reading the book I wished I knew Russian. Though humorously told in English, I imagined how Russian humor translated. Maybe as humorous as Solomon’s embarrassing experience coming across the f-word when he was learning to read and speak English?
Family Matters and More is an inspiring memoir. The sincerity and the many lessons Solomon learns are among the most uplifting. “The Compromise,” absolutely delightful to read as well. Loved that solidly grounded principled story. “A Couple of Drunkards,” …just hilarious. Loved that one too. The new frantic parents and the trouble Dina caused them…typical, though I couldn’t help but laugh picturing it. “The antidote that cured Vova (his son) of bronchitis,” simply invaluable. And not just the remedy itself, but the message behind the remedy.
Also, I can’t recall where in the book the Stalin newspaper ‘usage’ was, but the suspense leading up to what frightened people from using the public stall is one of the best examples to describe the encompassing nature of this enduring family story. Like the cure for Vova’s bronchitis, some of the simplest things in life are not only the purest, but simply the most enduring. Lovely.