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The Mayakovsky Tapes: A Novel
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Published:
St. Martin's Publishing Group 2016
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Description

In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow's deluxe Hotel Metropol. They have gathered to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure.

The ladies, each of whom could claim to have been a muse to the poet, loved or loathed Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their conflicting memories of him, a portrait of the artist as a young idealist emerges. From his early years as a leader of the Futurist movement, to his work as a propagandist for the Revolution, and on to the censorship battles that turned him against the state (and, more ominously, the state against him), their recollections reveal Mayakovsky as a passionate, complex, sexually obsessed creature trapped in the epicenter of history, struggling to hold onto his ideals in the face of a revolution betrayed.

Written by Robert Littell, whom The Washington Post called "one of the most talented, most original voices in American fiction today, period," The Mayakovsky Tapes is an ambitious, impressive novel that brings to life the tumultuous Stalinist era and the predicament of the artists ensnared in it.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
11/22/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781250100573
ASIN:
B01F1YMKYS
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APA Citation (style guide)

Robert Littell. (2016). The Mayakovsky Tapes: A Novel. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Robert Littell. 2016. The Mayakovsky Tapes: A Novel. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Robert Littell, The Mayakovsky Tapes: A Novel. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Robert Littell. The Mayakovsky Tapes: A Novel. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Jun 12, 2018 16:58:00
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: ROBERT LITTELL is the author of more than a dozen previous novels and the nonfiction book If Israel Lost the War, written with Shimon Peres, President of Israel. He has been awarded both the Gold Dagger and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his fiction. His novel The Company was a New York Times bestseller and was adapted into a television miniseries. He lives in France.
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The Mayakovsky Tapes
fullDescription

In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow's deluxe Hotel Metropol. They have gathered to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure.

The ladies, each of whom could claim to have been a muse to the poet, loved or loathed Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their conflicting memories of him, a portrait of the artist as a young idealist emerges. From his early years as a leader of the Futurist movement, to his work as a propagandist for the Revolution, and on to the censorship battles that turned him against the state (and, more ominously, the state against him), their recollections reveal Mayakovsky as a passionate, complex, sexually obsessed creature trapped in the epicenter of history, struggling to hold onto his ideals in the face of a revolution betrayed.

Written by Robert Littell, whom The Washington Post called "one of the most talented, most original voices in American fiction today, period," The Mayakovsky Tapes is an ambitious, impressive novel that brings to life the tumultuous Stalinist era and the predicament of the artists ensnared in it.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: "A vivid portrait of the life and times of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. ... Littell's mordant wit is perfectly suited to his melancholy tale, rich in dark imagery and razor-sharp dialogue."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist
      • content: "[A] vivid picture of a gifted poet, a tireless womanizer, and a man beset by wild mood swings. The ladies' narration is both raunchy and often hilarious. It also illuminates a tumultuous period of Russian history."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "Complex...rewarding... The Russian Revolution and its aftermath are viewed from varying angles, showing that truth is always contradictory and never simple."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Wall Street Journal
      • content: "[A] ribald, gossipy novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal
      • content: "Edgy conflicts with the state apparatus would explain why this book is called a thriller, but it will be so much more."
      • premium: False
      • source: Lundi Library (France)
      • content: "In this ambitious and tumultuous novel, Robert Littell signs a homage (to the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky) that is vibrant and sensual, where creative excesses existed alongside human genius."
      • premium: False
      • source: Le Point (France)
      • content: "Through the eyes of the four muses who loved and hated this tornado of love, sex, poetry and revolution, Littell... brushes an iconoclastic portrait of the poet who was crushed by Stalinism."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        September 19, 2016
        As in the Sufi tale of the four blind men describing an elephant, the four women in this complex but rewarding novel from bestseller Littell (A Nasty Piece of Work) each possesses a different truth about their late lover, the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, whom they are discussing around a recording device in a Moscow hotel room in 1953. The events they are talking about took place in the years just before and after the Russian Revolution. The ladies, Mayakovsky, and many of the minor characters are based on real people, and the relationships are pretty much as described. The author’s invention is in the differing interpretations of their multifarious relationships and the myriad of small facts that don’t make it into the history books. Mayakovsky was a “complicated man, trying on different versions of
        himself,” according to his anti-Bolshevik lover, Elly Jones. The Russian Revolution and its aftermath are viewed from varying angles, showing that truth is always
        contradictory and never simple. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Ltd.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        September 15, 2016
        From the reminiscences of four worldly women emerges a vivid portrait of the life and times of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky.Secrets play little part in this latest from esteemed espionage author Littell. Rather than spin a tale of clandestine agents, Littell fashions an extended dialogue among four blatantly forthright witnesses to history. As a premise, Littell opens with one R. Litzky, once "a young American...Moscow State University [student]...minoring in Fatal Flaws of Capitalism" and now an 86-year-old man living in Brooklyn Heights. Litzky stumbles upon a cache of tapes he recorded more than 60 years ago in which four women recall their relationships with idolized poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. (Mayakovsky and the women are all based on actual people.) Litzky says the women tell "the butt-naked truth," and he means it. As Mayakovsky "couldn't decide which was more important to consummate: erections, poetry, or revolution," the transcribed tapes are akin to an R-rated version of All About Eve with the four ex-lovers sniping over the primacy of their passionate affairs and relationships with the poet. In a comment intended not "as a compliment, only a description," Nora Polonskaya, a "foul-mouthed blonde theater actress," calls Lilya Yuryevna, Mayakovsky's muse, "an epicurean at the table of carnal love." Besides bedrooms grand and fetid, Littell's mural offers vivid images of Moscow, Paris, and New York in the 1920s as politically committed writers like Mayakovsky spread their political and physical seeds. In New York, "Negro musicians" entertain "the crowd with the latest wrinkle in jazz, something called the boogie-woogie," and in Moscow, Boris Pasternak and Mayakovsky fire up revolutionaries at bohemian soirees. An inexorable momentum in the women's recollections brings Mayakovsky to the end of the decade and a melancholy, tragic demise. Littell's mordent wit is perfectly suited to his melancholy tale, rich in dark imagery and razor-sharp dialogue.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        November 1, 2016
        After poet Vladimir Mayakovsky committed suicide in 1930, his one-time lover, Lilya Brik, wrote to Josef Stalin to complain that party officials in the literary world had snubbed the poet. Soon after, Pravda reported that Stalin called Mayakovsky the most talented poet of our Soviet epoch. Indifference to his work is a crime. Soon after that, the poet was honored with a city square, a metro station, a statue, and a town in Armenia that was named after him. Littell, the dean of American espionage novelists, seems to have an affinity for Russia's poets. The Stalin Epigram (2009) focused on Osip Mandelstam. This time Littell uses four sophisticated women who had relationships with the poet to illuminate his life and character. The women were his lovers; two anti-Bolsheviks who fled Russia, one Moscow actress, and Lilya, the wife of a literary critic. Separately and together they paint a vivid picture of a gifted poet, a tireless womanizer, and a man beset by wild mood swings. The ladies' narration is both raunchy and often hilarious. It also illuminates a tumultuous period of Russian history.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2016, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 1, 2016

        Celebrated Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) was a larger-than-life figure whose personal motto might have been "Revolution--Poetry--Erection," with the order depending on which passion prevailed at the moment. Littell (A Nasty Piece of Work) narrates the poet's life as if recalled by four of his lovers. With Lilya and her husband, Mayakovsky participated in a menage a trois. Elly and the poet met in New York City, and their brief affair produced a daughter. Tatiana was a Parisian model who insisted on saving her virginity for her aristocratic fiance. Nora, while clinging to her acting career and husband, was with the poet just before his violent suicide. In 1953 the women meet at Moscow's Metropole Hotel to reminisce, and their conversations are recorded by an American student writing a thesis about the poet. The dialog can be a bit stiff, but the narratives become compelling once the seductive energies of these free spirits are let loose. VERDICT Based on real-life personalities and blending in a great deal of the literary ambience of the times, Litell's historical novel dramatizes a chaotic experience in the tumultuous era from the end of the tsars to the ascendance of Stalin. Mayakovsky's life and works have been intensively studied, but surely this is the first time his sexual ardors have been reimagined by a master of the espionage genre.--Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 15, 2016

        A Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger winner whose The Company was a New York Times best seller that became a television miniseries, Littell sets his new novel around the time of Stalin's death in 1953. Four women gather at Moscow's elegant Metropole Hotel to recall gloriously inventive Futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, with whom they were all in love. What's revealed: a groundbreaking artist and complex individual who turned against the revolution he first supported because of censorship battles and eventually committed suicide. Edgy conflicts with the state apparatus would explain why this book is called a thriller, but it will be so much more.

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription

In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow's deluxe Hotel Metropol. They have gathered to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure.

The ladies, each of whom could claim to have been a muse to the poet, loved or loathed Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their conflicting memories of him, a portrait of the artist as a young idealist emerges. From his early years as a leader of the Futurist movement, to his work as a propagandist for the Revolution, and on to the censorship battles that turned him against the state (and, more ominously, the state against him), their recollections reveal Mayakovsky as a passionate, complex, sexually obsessed creature trapped in the epicenter of history, struggling to hold onto his ideals in the face of a revolution betrayed.

Written by Robert Littell, whom The...

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