Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Last Tsar— Nicholas and Alexandra

Large Print historical books being somewhat limited at my library (there’s more romance novels), I take what I can get. My last time there, I was able to get a pristine copy of The Last Tsar, a book that looked like either no one had ever read it before me or else it’d been read by someone with a very light touch! I love books like that. If the book is actually any good, that’s just gravy. I’m not like that all the time, but once in a while this form of “bookitis” seems to grab hold of my soul. I am usually fairly indifferent to the cleanness or the quality of a book’s form. Sometimes it’s okay whether it’s a paperback or hardback. Sometimes, I not only don’t mind if the book’s falling apart, I’ll sometimes glue it back together so that I can keep reading an intact book! Whether it lasts long enough for another person to read it, I don’t much concern myself. I just don’t like to handle books that are crumbling or shedding.

Somewhere in the depths of my soul, it appears that there still dwells the heart of a book lover. I never was crazy about leather-bound books, but sturdy books were a good thing. If a book had a substantial weight and yet was not so heavy that you had to read it at a table, that was great! It meant you could read it sometimes in bed when you were trying to relax. The Last Tsar, by Edvard Radzinsky, is like that, almost. If my hands weren’t getting senseless from some form of neuropathy (like I have in my feet), it wouldn’t be too heavy. It’s a book I should have read in bed 5 or 10 years ago. Too bad. These days, I find I have read a good deal of it in the bathroom—and I don’t mean in the tub! I can only last until my legs get cramped or my bony ass gets sore, of course. So I take a long time to read a big book like this.

What’s the hurry, anyway? I take my time and don’t let it bother me that there’s too goddamned many Russian names and nicknames to keep track of. I just try to follow the flow. It’s history, anyway, and not only is all history seldom known and seldom knowable, I add to the mix by skimming when the love letters between the Tsar and Tsaritsa become too mushy and too frequent. I was awake when Rasputin was murdered. (Plink! Just a clean bullet hole in the end—but damn, all that bellowing death and threat of retribution!)

I expect I’ll be awake again when the Tsar and the Tsaritsa and their offspring buy the farm. But I’m an old fart and I give myself permission to skim. Seems like a good thing to me. After all, when I really misbehave, I throw (my own, not the library’s) disappointing books to the ground or out the window onto an adjacent roof! Skimming is a small sin in my book What book, you ask? The one on the roof, dummy!

Jesus. I’ve been skimming my way to the end of this book for a while now, but it’s taking this guy forever to stop telling this murder tale! Just kill them, I want to yell at him! Since the deaths are a historical fact, he knows you know about it and draws it out forever getting to the details. I guess he knew that bit of drama was one of the only things going for him unless—unlike me—you’re an endless student of Russian and Commie history! My head is jam-packed with the names of Russian historical nobodies who were once important for 15 seconds or so. Well, it’s over; they’ve killed the Tsar and the Tsaritsa just in time for supper, not to mention the hemophiliac son, and all the pretty young daughters in a row, and every relation that could be reached at the time. Dead, dead, dead! But still this book goes on. All this Russian darkness is going on too long; I may not last to the end, but I’m trying.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here! (At least put on your socks and pants.)