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Reading Slothfully

I was told in elementary school that I only could read at half the speed for success in college. Oh well, one benefit of slow reading is you get to live with the characters a longer period of time. I read in a vain attempt to better understand people. At my other homes, I'm known as a spouse, pop, guy in the choir, physical chemist, computer/web dilettante and child-care provider. In theory, I'm a published author, if you consider stuff like Quenching Cross Sections for Electronic Energy Transfer Reactions Between Metastable Argon Atoms and Noble Gases and Small Molecules to count as publications. I've strewn dozens of such fascinating things to the winds.

Currently reading

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas
Jules Verne
The Spirit of the Border
Zane Grey
Ramona the Brave (Ramona, #3)
Beverly Cleary
The Underground Man (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Ross Macdonald
Delilah of the Snows
Harold Bindloss
Mrs. Miniver
Jan Struther
Betsy-Tacy Treasury (P.S.)
Maud Hart Lovelace
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens
The Way Some People Die
Ross Macdonald
Envy of Angels
Matt Wallace

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles My brother used to be a journalist in Moscow during the reign of the Soviet Union, so he has some interest in Russia and its history. This book essentially follows the history from about 1922 until 1954 or so by following the life of Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who was living in a fancy hotel in Moscow, The Metropol, under house arrest from about 1922 on. For some reason, the Soviets didn't feel that the Count was enough of a threat to execute him or exile him to Siberia.

As we begin, a 9-year-old girl, Nina Kulikova, comes over to him and makes friends with him. She's allegedly under the supervision of a nanny, but the nanny seems uninterested. So Nina begins showing the Count all the ins and outs of the hotel. She has a pass key and knows the way to all the most secret interior places.

Count Rostov also makes friends with some of the hotel staff, including the fancy chef Emile Zhukovsky, the Maître d’ Andrey Duras, and bar tender Audrius.

Well, as time goes on, the Count begins working at the hotel as the head waiter. At some point Nina grows up, goes off and has a daughter. But then her spouse is sent to Siberia for something or other. So she brings her daughter to live with the Count in the Metropol until such time as she, Nina, can come back for her. And so on. Oh right, at some point early on, the Count has a one-night stand with a famous actress, Anna Urbanova. But, she reappears a number of years later, no longer quite so famous, and they begin a regular relationship.

It's a pretty interesting story, a sort of microcosm of life under Soviet rule, but all carried out within the gentlemanly, civilized walls of the Metropol.