This book club selection for July met with approval by most of the members.
We all were interested in the life of Dimitri Shostakovich and his life under
Stalin, who was unhappy with his music and approved a review which called his music “muddle instead of music”. Shostakovich feared for his own life and that of his wife and children. He had a small valise packed at the ready for many nights of this life.
But gradually, he was worn down by the criticism of even some of his admirers and he knuckled under to willingly agreeing that his music was no good and not suitable for the people of Russia and even joined the Party eventually.
The book is short–191 pages, but it does tend to be endless navel-gazing on the part of Shostakovich and we are along for the ride as the readers. At one point Shostakovich points out that there are three ways for a person to lose his own honor. One, when forced to do it. Two, when he does it willingly even though forced, and third (his case) when he does it willingly all on his own.
Julian Barnes is a well regarded, award winning author and the book club felt that the book was well written and we were glad to have gotten a first hand look at what life could be like living under a dictatorship.
The August book club selection is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.