“Oh, we got trouble–right here in River City
with a capital T that rhymes with P and that stands
The Music Man, Harold Hill, doesn’t know what
trouble is—he’s not trying to read Doctor Zhivago for the
July book club meeting July 21st.
First line: “On they went, singing ‘Rest Eternal,’ and
whenever they stopped, their feet, the horses, and the gusts
of wind seemed to carry on their singing.”
So far, so good. And I dutifully made a long list of the characters
and their nicknames, common names, surnames and most
commonly called names. But—problem is–say I run into “Kolia”
who is a train signal man. I cleverly name him, to myself, to remember
him, “Coca-Kolia” and continue reading about him. And then, Yikes!
a chapter later ANOTHER Kolia appears—fondly calling Uncle
Nicholas ‘Kolia’. No fair!
Slow down. I am reading expectantly, being earnest in trying to
understand the characters, the Russian revolution(s), the references
to the Whites, the Reds, the partisans, the Greens, the Forest
Brotherhood . . .
There are three characters that I have a grip on: Yurii Andreievich
Zhivago (Doctor Zhivago!), Antonina Alexandrovna Gromeko (Tonia)–
Yurii’s wife, and Larisa Feodorovna Guishar (Lara) –his love.
Take those three and mix them with a lot, a lot of Russian history
and scores of other difficult Russian names, colonels, revolutionaries,
and call them by different names as often as you can, and you have
the makings of a 559 page book.
I’m currently on page 358.
I have figured out how many pages a day should be read to be ready
for book club—25 pages. That’s nothing, right? So I read my 25
pages and then I’m off!—-off! to anything else to read short of a
Betwixt and between the 25 page episodes I’ve read The Story of Stuff,
Chekhof’s The Seagull, Dole Girl by Barbara Hamby,
Kaufman and Hart’s The Man Who Came to Dinner,
and now, God help me, Cherry Ames, Department Store Nurse.
When I mention to people that I’m reading Doctor Zhivago they always
nearly swoon and gasp how much they loved that book! Methinks
(I think) they are referring to THE MOVIE. I don’t think they ever
read the book.
to be continued . . .