January, 2013: City of Thieves by David Benioff

(Book #33) Melissa hosted our first book of 2013 and we started right off with vodka shots — that will get your book club going! And of course we had dozens of deviled eggs, no shortage of eggs here. For dinner, we had borscht, rye bread, sausage, sauerkraut, meatballs and pelmeni.  It was hardy winter fare for those who had been many days without food in the freezing cold, or more accurately, for those who had been reading about many days without food in the freezing cold.

Melissa and I both LOVED this book. With a mock Russian dialect, Melissa announced that all authors should be made to write books as good as this one or sent to Siberia! One of my favorite aspects of the book is the source of Lev’s appreciation for Kolya: In spite of all his irritating qualities, I couldn’t help liking a man who despised a fictional character with such passion. The book is so clever and well written and yet so stark because, in the end their victory is pointless.

Other favorite quotes:

In certain ways I am deeply stupid. I don’t say this out of modesty. I believe that I’m more intelligent than the average human being, though perhaps intelligence should not be looked at as a single gauge, like a speedometer, but as a full array of tachometers, odometers, altimeters, and the rest.

Too many words for one book — truth might be stranger than fiction, but it needs a better editor. 

You couldn’t let too much truth seep into your conversation, you couldn’t admit with your mouth what your eyes had seen.”

The partisans would continue picking off Nazis; the Nazis would continue massacring noncombatants; and eventually the Fascists would learn that they could not win the war even if they killed thirty civilians for every one of their dead soldiers. The arithmetic was brutal, but brutal arithmetic always worked in Russia’s favor.