I wrote in a tight hand, in a graphed notebook, on each line. My composition was short. A challenge to fate cannot be long-winded.
Though she was born in Moscow's opulent Metropol Hotel, Ludmilla Petrushevskaya's fortunes quickly took a sharp turn when her family of Bolshevik intellectuals were branded "enemies of the people." Ostracized at a time when so many were struggling in Soviet Russia, she spent her childhood waiting in breadlines and sleeping in freight cars, scrambling for scraps and creatively begging for handouts. Rather than being bleak and self-pitying, though, Petrushevskaya - one of Russia's most acclaimed contemporary authors - presents lively and spirited vignettes of a feisty, indomitable girl overcoming countless hardships to eventually find her voice as a writer. With two dozen photographs scattered throughout the text, The Girl from the Metropol Hotel is engrossing, revelatory, and ultimately uplifting. (AG)