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As many of you who follow me on Goodreads probably know by now, Dostoyevsky is my favorite author, and I am incredibly passionate about reading and analyzing his works Thus, I am often wary about fictitious portrayals of him for an excellent interpretation, I strongly recommend watching the Russian TV series Dostoyevsky A Life Full of Passion I had recently read J.M Coetzee s The Master of Petersburg , and found it overall disappointing and unfai As many of you who follow me on Goodreads probably know by now, Dostoyevsky is my favorite author, and I am incredibly passionate about reading and analyzing his works Thus, I am often wary about fictitious portrayals of him for an excellent interpretation, I strongly recommend watching the Russian TV series Dostoyevsky A Life Full of Passion I had recently read J.M Coetzee s The Master of Petersburg , and found it overall disappointing and unfairly harsh in its treatment of its central character Dostoyevsky Tsypkin s Summer in Baden Baden is, unlike Coetzee s novel, based on true events, and highly historically accurate It is a narrative about Fyodor Dostoyevsky s life, mainly focusing on his years abroad in Germany with his wife, Anna, shortly after their marriage But it is also a novel about Tsypkin himself, who, while reading Anna s Reminiscences on a train voyage, imagines Anna and Fyodor on their own journey nearly a century earlier.Tsypkin, while not entirely unflawed in his portrayal of Dostoyevsky, nonetheless excels at making his version of the author seem genuine He agonizes through Dostoyevsky s long battle with gambling addiction which he finally gave up after the birth of his and Anna s daughter, Lyubov and the toll it takes on Dostoyevsky as well as those around him Tsypkin s peculiar style run on sentences which form entire paragraphs while excessive at some points, works powerfully here Readers feel the frantic pain of obsession along with Tsypkin s Dostoyevsky as he desperately attempts to achieve some semblance of control even as his life spirals helplessly downward and even, perhaps, as he enjoys that fall.The Dostoyevsky portrayed in Summer in Baden Baden is also a man constantly haunted by the suffering he endured as a political prisoner in Siberia At last, a fictional portrayal of Dostoyevsky which gives proper weight to this issue Tsypkin perhaps takes historical liberties in believing that Dostoyevsky was flogged while in prison, but such an occurrence could very well have happened As in Tsypkin s portrayal, the real Dostoyevsky rarely spoke about his prison experiences Instead, they often manifested in cruel outbursts toward others This is one of the first works I have encountered which properly grasps the fact that, while still worthy of blame, Dostoyevsky s losses of temper were often not born of cruelty for its own sake Rather, they were the physical manifestation of deep and undiagnosed psychological wounds.And Tsypkin gives to Anna as well the complex portrait she deserves In the pages of his novel, she is not merely a submissive pushover Rather, she undergoes an intense transformation throughout the novel, and matures just as she does in the pages of her Reminiscences At first a good hearted but inexperienced young woman, she unwittingly enables her husband s gambling addiction by giving him money and endlessly forgiving him for losing it Nonetheless, by the final scene of Tsypkin s novel, readers glimpse the muchself assured Anna who took charge of the family s finances and thus allowed Dostoyevsky to become the great writer we know today In its final scene, the novel skips ahead many years to the night of Dostoyevsky s death in 1881 at only age 59, from a lung hemorrhage It is here the Tsypkin s full potential as a writer is realized, in heartbreakingly beautiful prose I actually teared up a bit Anna realized with horror that this was actually happening, and that she was on her knees before her dying husband, Fedya, who used to come to her every evening to say goodnight, used to write long, passionate and incoherent letters to her if she had a cold, he would get irritated and ask her to stop sneezing, and this would make her laugh, and in the end he would start to laugh as well 139 In my opinion, Tsypkin s great triumph in Summer in Baden Baden can be seen in the deeply human characters he creates He is sympathetic in his narrative, understanding that although our pasts may mark us, they do not define who we can become His Dostoyevsky is imperfect but kindhearted in the end, an often troubled soul who managed nonetheless to transcend his own difficulties and prejudices and to make the world a better place Tsypkin, like Anna, manages by the end of the novel to care for Dostoyevsky as a human being,rather than as an untouchable idol Leonid Tsypkin strongly felt what now appears to be a universal human need to be a fan of someone or something But he was cursed by fate He lived in a place and at a time when there was no one to worship but God yet God was itself banned as a matter of state policy and there were no rock stars, actors, great athletes, football teams or anything one could substitute for God Tsypkin was born in 1926 in Minsk His parents were Russian jews He was a young boy when the Stalinist purges, the Grea Leonid Tsypkin strongly felt what now appears to be a universal human need to be a fan of someone or something But he was cursed by fate He lived in a place and at a time when there was no one to worship but God yet God was itself banned as a matter of state policy and there were no rock stars, actors, great athletes, football teams or anything one could substitute for God Tsypkin was born in 1926 in Minsk His parents were Russian jews He was a young boy when the Stalinist purges, the Great Terror, started His father, his father s two sisters and a brother were arrested His father tried to commit suicide while in prison but survived and later got out His father s aforementioned three siblings all perished When Minsk was captured by the Germans in 1941 it was the turn of Tsypkin s grandmother, another aunt and two little cousins to die, murdered in a ghetto He and his father, however, managed to escape from Minsk with the help of his father s former patient Later, Tsypkin himself became a doctor like his parents.He married and had a son, Mikhail.He had always loved literature and the arts and at some time toyed with the idea of writing full time or becoming a film director But he was afraid he may not be able to support his family with any of these careers So he stuck with being a doctor, devoting much of his time on research.He did manage to write some poems, two novellas and this one, his longest But none of these was ever published in Russia during his lifetime His son Mikhail and the latter s wife were granted exit visas in 1977 and they migrated to the United States Two years after, Tsypkin himself, his wife and mother applied for exit visas but were denied The emigration of his son to the United States had caused him a lot of trouble his salary the only source of livelihood for the family was cut by 75% and he was treated as a pariah in the research institute ran by the government where he worked He was trappped.It was at this period 1977 to 1980 that he wrote this novel After it was finished, and with no prospect of having it published in the country, he managed to smuggle a copy of the manuscript out through the help of a journalist friend who had managed to leave early in 1981 In September that year, he, his wife and his mother re applied for exit visas The following month his mother died, aged 86 A week later the denial of their application came.In early March 1982 he was told by the head of the Moscow visa office that he will never be allowed to emigrate anywhere Days later, his son Mikhail, who was then studying in Harvard, told him that this novel will be published, on installment, at a Russian emigre weekly based in New York The first of these installments appeared on 13 March 1982 A week later, or on 20 March 1982, Tsypkin died of a heart attack It was his 56th birthday He never got to see any of his work in print or came to know of the readers reaction to any of his literary output How would he have reacted to Susan Sontag s introduction here where she gushed that she would include this novel among the most beautiful, exalting, and original achievements of a century s worth of fiction and para fiction we will never know.This is a part historical, part imaginary and part autobiographical fan blog written long before the age of the internet and using, not a laptop, but a World War II vintage Erika typewriter The object of Tsypkin s fanboyism was the only type of idol the KGB then will not suspect you of hatching a plot to destabilize the regime a Russian author dead for about a century with an apolitical body of work Fyodor Dostoevsky.A true fan he was, for only a true fan would do what Tsypkin did before actually wiriting this novel amidst the hopelessness and tribulations of his sorry life First, he scoured the libraries and archives to do research on Dostoevsky Then, camera in hand, he went to Leningrad to take photos of places which had a part in Dostoevsky s life AND that of the characters in his novels That is why in between paragraphs of this novel the reader will be occasionally confronted with images of streets, buildings, walls, holes, stairways, rooms and the like all without any human beings in them as if even in these images of places Tsypkin did not want anyone but Dostoevsky and his characters to magically appear and re enact the incidents of their lives.It seemed a historical fact that in the summer of 1867 Dostoevsky and his young wife Anna travelled across Russia to Baden Baden then a popular resort town But his anti semitism, his gambling addiction, his compulsive almsgiving, his use of swimming as a metaphor for the sex act were these still facts or were they just imagined by Tyspkin sorry, but I read my Dostoevskythan 30 years ago.The scenes here go from Dostoevsky s time to Tyspkin s own time in the 1970s as if the century which separates these times had been compressed to make the past and the present happen simultaneously through the medium of this novel Tyspkin was like an Elvis Presley impersonator dressing up like him and singing his songs to relive what had long been gone This is one desperate longing expressed through prose @Download ´ Ein Sommer In Baden Baden Roman â Ein Zug f hrt durch die Nacht Ein junger russischer Intellektueller ist auf dem Weg nach Leningrad Er liest das Tagebuch von Anna Grigorjewna, der gro en Liebe Fjodor Dostojewskis, und ist so gebannt, dass die Figuren zum Leben erwachen Im Jahrreist das frisch verheiratete Paar nach Baden Baden, dem Eldorado aller Spieler Es folgt ein jahrelanger Grenzgang zwischen Dostojewskis begnadeter Vorstellungskraft und sadistischer Launenhaftigkeit, zwischen kreativem Schaffensrausch und l hmender Epilepsie Susan Sontag writes The literature of the second half of the twentieth century is a much traversed field, and it seems unlikely that there are still masterpieces in major, intently patrolled languages waiting to be discovered Intently patrolled I like that At a time when most publishers won t accept unsolicited manuscripts, let alone pay them proper attention when they do When even agents don t accept them It s like some Kafkaesque doorkeeper fable Maybe in the seventies it was different Susan Sontag writes The literature of the second half of the twentieth century is a much traversed field, and it seems unlikely that there are still masterpieces in major, intently patrolled languages waiting to be discovered Intently patrolled I like that At a time when most publishers won t accept unsolicited manuscripts, let alone pay them proper attention when they do When even agents don t accept them It s like some Kafkaesque doorkeeper fable Maybe in the seventies it was different, though with the invention of the word processor in the eighties the submissions must have flooded in My dad wrote three novels in the eighties no publisher, to my knowledge, ever read them My uncle wrote a huge novel before he died, which both my parents thought was a masterpiece, but my mum couldn t find an agent willing to take on a dead author and, again, no publisher read it In the nineties I held a job briefly as slush pile reader for Random House I d receive a package of manuscripts in the mail, skim or occasionally read them, write a small sometimes very small report on each, bill the publisher for my time taken and never hear from them again Money in the bank, sure, and another package of manuscripts, but never a word on the work I d done Was I, then, doing the patrolling Maybe to Sontag it s inconceivable that any but professionals already on the radars of the so called patrollers could come up with these masterpieces, but not to me The frightening thing is how many hidden masterpieces there must be, in all languages, and it can only be getting worse.Meantime, I m not even convinced that Summer in Baden Baden is a masterpiece The comparison to Bernhard gimme a break Read The Lime Works and tell me just stringing every sentence out with ands and extended parentheses is the equivalent of that virtuosity Yeah, it sweeps you up oftentimes it sweeps you or swept me up and over what it sought to convey, and by each seemingly interminable sentence s end the last thing you feel like is re reading it Nor did I feel any great insight into Dostoevsky, and if as Sontag claims it s supposed to depict some great love affair, I didn t get it endless squabbling often culminating in threats of suicide from Fedya and endless making up Not a relationship I found unique or interesting There s Dos s anti semitism, which particularly stings the Jewish Leonid Tsypkin but it s barely explored There s Tsypkin s or the narrator s own life but again, it s wafer thin A good early draft, then, unbalanced by excessive focus on Dos s gambling tedious, well illustrated early on then drawn out ad nauseum and too little clarity in the present day sections Cos I mean, yeah, it was good It flew by But didn t it feel just slightly pointless True, this genre a slightlyfocussed Sebaldian journey that s hardly fiction at all is a hard sell for me But to me this is onereason to take a break from the past and start patrolling the present And by this, Susan, I meanthan just digging around in secondhand bookshops I was on a train, traveling by day, but it was winter time late December, the very depths and to add to it the train was heading north to Leningrad so it was quickly darkening on the other side of the windows bright lights of Moscow stations flashing into view and vanishing again behind me like the scattering of some invisible handLeonid Tsypkin, Summer in Baden Baden, p 1 So begins a literary doppleganger in the sense that there are two narratives, one of Leningrad and I was on a train, traveling by day, but it was winter time late December, the very depths and to add to it the train was heading north to Leningrad so it was quickly darkening on the other side of the windows bright lights of Moscow stations flashing into view and vanishing again behind me like the scattering of some invisible handLeonid Tsypkin, Summer in Baden Baden, p 1 So begins a literary doppleganger in the sense that there are two narratives, one of Leningrad and today and Leonid Tsypkin, and one of Petersburg and yesterday and Fedya and Anna Tsypkin s novel mesmerizes with two stories that enthrall with emotion and truth A taut gem of historical fiction that gets to the heart of Dostoevsky and appeals to all who have loved his work The story clings to the real events of Dostoevsky s life torn form the pages of Anna s Diary and other sources that intertwine with Tsypkin s own modern journey Among the themes of the book are those of all great Russian literature as seen through the painful experiences of Dostoevsky s own vices and the dreamlike desires of the narrator I was fascinated as the novel flowed back and forth between the first person I reflecting the narrator s memories and the third person scenes of fedya and Anna between past and present The taut lyricism that keeps the novel short, even through the use of long sentences is difficult to compare with any other novel I have read However, in its uniqueness I would place it with Rilke s Notebooks of Malt Laurids Brigge Different in many ways but just as unique in its ability to haunt one s memory Sadly, the author did not live to see the English language publication of this novel Like other great Russian authors he worked in the medical profession, but he left us a gift based on his passion for literature Seemingly everyone who reads this says How could such a good book be scarcely known and the circumstances under which it was published at all are remarkable.The unnamed narrator, basically Tsypkin himself, is taking a train from Moscow to Leningrad in the late 70s in winter it is dark and cold, the sodium lights of each town flash by He is reading the Diary of Dostoevsky s second wife, Anna, and uses this to retell two episodes from their life together a summer in Baden Baden just af Seemingly everyone who reads this says How could such a good book be scarcely known and the circumstances under which it was published at all are remarkable.The unnamed narrator, basically Tsypkin himself, is taking a train from Moscow to Leningrad in the late 70s in winter it is dark and cold, the sodium lights of each town flash by He is reading the Diary of Dostoevsky s second wife, Anna, and uses this to retell two episodes from their life together a summer in Baden Baden just after they were married, scarcely idyllic because Dostoevsky s well documented gambling obsession dominates their days, and a quick flash forward to his deathbed There s also an interlude on Pushkin, an aside pondering Dostoevsky s anti Semitism and a fewtopics.Tsypkin and his narrator was from a family of accomplished doctors, cultivated and having a great literary enthusiasm The state of Russian Jews having progressed from the outright murderousness of the Stalin era to a constant state of civil and professional discrimination, the book closes with him staying with an aunt in one of those formerly grand now crumbling apartments, shared with several other families, because he has traveled to Leningrad to continue his research on Dostoevsky.His prose style is exhilarating and remarkable and almost unprecedented every sentence is a long paragraph and weaves together four threads Susan Sontag s introduction a big reminder that I am way behind in reading her , says he could be compared to Thomas Bernhard or W G Sebald but observes there s almost no chance he could have been familiar with either.The book was published in New York in 1982 in a Russian emigre literary journal, the manuscript having been smuggled out of the USSR Tsypkin s decision to give his blessing to his son and daughter in law emigrating to California a couple of years prior effectively ended his professional life and scotched his own requests to leave he had already declined to attempt to publish any of his two decades of literary work as samizdat for fear of actually going to jail, so the fact that the book can be read is some kind of victory This is a strange sort of novel, written by one who never lived to see it published, but withal one of the greatest works produced during the Soviet era Picture a doctor who is obsessed with the life of Dostoyevsky, who sees his own life as if it were in lock step with that of earlier writer He recreates his life, and that of his second wife Anna Grigor yevna, so vividly that I will have a difficult time unlinking it from this work.Picture this memory of Anna Grigor yevna s while her husband l This is a strange sort of novel, written by one who never lived to see it published, but withal one of the greatest works produced during the Soviet era Picture a doctor who is obsessed with the life of Dostoyevsky, who sees his own life as if it were in lock step with that of earlier writer He recreates his life, and that of his second wife Anna Grigor yevna, so vividly that I will have a difficult time unlinking it from this work.Picture this memory of Anna Grigor yevna s while her husband lies dying S he was on her knees before her dying husband, her husband, Fedya, who used to come to her every evening to say goodnight, used to write long, passionate letters to her from Bad Ems, where he would travel every summer to take the cure, who used to cause jealous scenes at readings of his works whenever she exchanged a quick word with anyone or he thought she was looking at someone, and then they would walk home separately, but he would not be able to keep it up, and he would catch up with her and ask her to forgive him, saying that if she refused, then he would throw himself on his knees before her there and then and she would forgive him, and they would walk on together and supporting her carefully by the arm, he would look into her eyes and then, leaving her for a moment, would dash into a shop and buy her some sweetmeats nuts, raisins, bon bons and when they arrived home they would drink tea and he would produce the sweetmeats for her and the children, but if she had a cold, he would get irritated and ask her to stop sneezing, and this made her laugh, and in the end he would start to laugh as well.Did you notice that this is all one sentence with phrases strung together by ands or other conjunctions The translation by Roger and Angela Keys is so spot on that Leonid Tsypkin s sesquipedalian sentences would flow like a river in flood.Summer in Baden Baden is such a good book that it makes me want to re read what Dostoyevsky I have already read and maybe include some of the obscure ones I haven t, such as The Insulted and the Injured and A Raw Youth Leonid Tsypkin was a researcher, an author of over 100 scientific papers, by nighttime a pathologist and a writer who wrote for the pleasure and love of literature alone, literally for the drawer During his lifetime his readership didn t includethan family members and some of his son s friends from University He was not associated with any of the Soviet dissident circles, the samizdat underground movement and surely not an officially recognized writer Fortunately Tsypkin managed somehow Leonid Tsypkin was a researcher, an author of over 100 scientific papers, by nighttime a pathologist and a writer who wrote for the pleasure and love of literature alone, literally for the drawer During his lifetime his readership didn t includethan family members and some of his son s friends from University He was not associated with any of the Soviet dissident circles, the samizdat underground movement and surely not an officially recognized writer Fortunately Tsypkin managed somehow to let his manuscript be smuggled out of the country and one week before his death at the age of 56 it was published in serial form in a newspaper in the United States He never saw any of his pages in print.This, should I call it a novel, a travel diary, a memoir , is undoubtedly the product of art but evenso it is a highly accurate biography of Fyodor Mikhailovich Not a biography in the strict sense of the word with dates and whereabouts but a biography of the soul, of the mind of a great writer, even as one can expect with a high portion of fiction or as Susan Sontag wrote in her marvellous, essay like, introduction Nothing is invented Everything is invented Of course this is not a literary study of Dostoyevsky, as we are dealing with a literary work, the novel, the characters of which the author, Dostoyevsky, his wife Anna Grigor yevna, and somepeople, operate in a dark and chilly St.Petersburg, or in the summer of Baden, Basel and the intermediate Tver, all of them literally valid and in fact meticously studied, in particular the spirit and gloomy atmosphere of Dostoyevsky s life and of Tsypkin s.In the Soviet Union of the 1970s, our narrator who is Tsypkin and not Tsypkin, makes a journey by train en route from Moscow to Leningrad, where he arrives at the end of the book and visits the Dostoyevsky museum He flips through the diary of Anna Grigor yevna, Dostoyevsky s second wife, immersed in reading I took from the suitcase in the rack above me a book I had already started to read in Moscow and which I had brought especially for the journey to Leningrad, and I opened it at the page held by a bookmark decorated with Chinese characters and a delicate oriental drawing and in my heart of hearts I had no intention of returning the book borrowed from my aunt who possessed a large library, and because it was very flimsy and almost falling apart, I had taken it to a binder who trimmed the pages so that they lay together evenly and enclosed the whole thing in a strong cover which he pasted the book s original title page the Diary of Anna Grigor yevna Dostoyevskaya produced by some liberal publishing house still possible at that time either Landmarks , or New Life , or one of those with dates given in both Old Style and New Style and words and whole phrases in German and French without translation and the de rigueur Mme added with all the dilligence of a grammar school pupil a transliteration of the shorthand notes which she had taken during the summer following her marriage abroad while she recalls their journey in the opposite direction a century before our narrator, which will lead them to Germany, a Summer in Baden Baden, and Dresden The novel is set mainly on these two narrative threads, but always there are the flashbacks, memories and impressions We sense something of the difficult and complex character of the Russian writer, about his gambling, his memories of humilitation in the prison camp and his great love for his wife but also a mixture of passion, anger, demands and rejection In an almost surprisingly subtle and carefully but manically, obsessively crafted manner the author describes the process of being, of imagining Dostoyevsky, with trivias, metaphors, his rise and his fall, a capital wounded person, jealous, selfish, abusive as to the last detail, not so much a tragic figure but pathetic, a reckless gambler, neurotic with all the subleties of the mind, his mentality, how Fedya is walking down the street, creating in his fevered imagination scenarios of victory and vengeance, of elevation and forgiveness.Tsypkin reveals himself as a master of the word and the pen there is a strong interdependence of time, of past and present tense, of third and first person narrative and the single sentences are exaggerated up to two or three pages without any breaks or paragraphs or time to breath, which makes it a frustratingly slow, exhausting and demanding read He skillfully moves between the two temporal main levels, pushes additionally alot of background info in between just to move forward again to the actual here and now and the lines of what is and of what was are blurred almost to extinction Jose Saramago and Thomas Bernhard come to mind, two writers who are similar stylistically but Tsypkin had, as he was never allowed to leave his country, no chance of reading and there is no proof that he was even aware of their literary achievements His style is totally his own witout any notable outside influence.The fully enjoyment comes probably only under one condition the reader should have read Dostoyevsky s major works up to Crime and Punishment as there are many references from Tsypkin to them Many allusions require a certain knowledge of the literary world of Czarist Russia, of Dostoyevsky s relationship with Turgenev and Tolstoy, also of the Soviet Times Solzhenitsyn is there without being named Susan Sontag enthused over this one and, indeed, it s a beautiful book Touching on the lyrical at times, which is amazing considering it was translated from the Russian It helps to have read some Dostoyevsky, but that s not essential. Once or twice in our lives, we are fortunate enough to stumble upon a hidden masterpiece, a book so entrancing that its obscurity strikes one not so much as an act of cultural oversight but as a natural disaster, leaving in its wake throngs of readers deprived of the book s great and terrible beauty Luckily, in recent years the cult of Summer in Baden Baden has grown considerably, with the book finding its way here, as it did in its native Soviet Russia, from friend to awestruck friend, passe Once or twice in our lives, we are fortunate enough to stumble upon a hidden masterpiece, a book so entrancing that its obscurity strikes one not so much as an act of cultural oversight but as a natural disaster, leaving in its wake throngs of readers deprived of the book s great and terrible beauty Luckily, in recent years the cult of Summer in Baden Baden has grown considerably, with the book finding its way here, as it did in its native Soviet Russia, from friend to awestruck friend, passed around semizdat style Any attempt at definition is bound to fail, as Leonid Tsypkin a haunted and supremely talented writer who has never seen this, his only work, published in his lifetime has invented a brand new hybrid genre, bringing together literary criticism, biography, novellas and travelogues For good measure, however, the plot is as follows The narrator, Tsypkin himself, is riding the train form Moscow to St Petersburg in the 1960s or 1970s He is reading a book, Anna Dostoyevsky s account of her travels with her husband in the year 1867, when the two, then newlyweds, left Russia for a summer in the German spa town of Baden Baden Dual accounts emerge On the one hand is the great author, his fame far from fully recognized, his finances in disarray, his sexuality ill at ease and his psyche ravaged by a growing addiction to gambling He runs around Baden Baden, a town awash in splendor, fuming at the sight of his fellow compatriots, Goncharov and Turgenev, both adored by the critics and in possession of considerable fortunes One moment he is ecstatic, bursting into casinos with crystal chandeliers and plush carpeting in the hope of winning instantaneous wealth The other he crawls back to his modest apartment, paralyzed with guilt, begging his young wife s forgiveness Tsypkin has concocted here not so much a biography as a fantasy, however well grounded in fact, and he enriches his text with subtle allusions to Dostoyevsky s work, small nuggets that are bound to delight fans of the great author But the book is as much Tsypkin s story as it is Dostoyevsky s on a parallel track to Fyodor and Anna s woes, Tsypkin recounts his own journey, one that ends with a pilgrimage to the author s house in St Petersburg This, I believe, is the truly masterful part of the book, as Tsypkin weaves together political commentary, lamenting the crumbling Soviet Union, with literary criticism, pondering the shortcomings of his idol, an unhappy, anti Semitic wretch of a man who nonetheless transcended the barriers posed by his wounded soul to become one of humanity s sharpest observers Tsypkin style, to be sure, is likely to frighten some, especially on first glance The book itself is written in long, breathless sentences, sometimes a paragraph long Although the book is short, its density is uncommon, demanding a slow and meditative pace, boundless patience, and a real admiration for Tsypkin s uncommonly artful sentences Despite the difficulty it presents, it is an immensely moving book, one in which love and fame and wealth and friendship and failure are all cut open, analyzed as seldom before, making the reader a bit sadder, a bit smarter, a bitaware