- Hardcover: 158 pages
- Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press; 1 edition (December 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1568986009
- ISBN-13: 978-1568986005
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 17 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,414,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ilf and Petrov's American Road Trip: The 1935 Travelogue of Two Soviet Writers Hardcover – December, 2006
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*Starred Review* Ilya Ilf (1897-1937) and Evgeny Petrov (1903-42) are the foremost comic novelists of the early Soviet Union. Their The Twelve Chairs (1928) was never suppressed, and in 1970 Mel Brooks made one of his earliest hit movies out of it. Their popularity and doctrinal orthodoxy helped them land an assignment for a series of articles about the real America, illustrated by photos Ilf snapped with a new Leica. Starting out from New York City in late November 1935, they drove to Chicago and then in a southerly circuit through Missouri and the Southwest, up to San Francisco, and back via southern Texas and the Gulf and tidewater coasts to Manhattan after New Year's. They gawked and got bored, picked up hitchhikers, palavered when they could (they were stunned by Americans' incuriosity about them), swallowed a couple of stretchers, and reported everything in 11 loosely thematic pieces whose prose is clean as a whistle and much more ingenuous. Ilf's pictures, reproduced from the best available sources (the negatives have vanished), are reminiscent of the Farm Security Administration photos of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and company, but they're literally artless, just snapshots, really. Impeccably translated, edited, and introduced, and supplemented by artist Aleksandr Rodchenko's prepublication assessment of the original photos and remarks by Ilf's daughter, Aleksandra, this is riveting, fresh-eyed Americana and--how d'you say?--Sovietiana? Ray Olson
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... a jovial and surprisingly affectionate account... a fascinating snapshot of a nation's history... before the Cold War took firm hold. -- CNN Traveler, Dec. 2006
In 1935, two Soviet writers embarked on a Borat-like tour of the U.S. Relive their strange journey in this delightful book. -- Entertainment Weekly, "The Must List", November 10, 2006
Now translated, this is a riveting piece of Americana. -- Booklist, September 15, 2007
Sorry, Borat, but two sassy Soviet Russians beat you to it. Just published for the first time ever in English, this lost treasure is a cool, srange artifact, but it's also simply a hoot. -- Very Short List, November 9, 2006
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Top customer reviews
Ilf and Petrov were established and skilled writers. Their natural mode was satire. That satirical bent, along with some "alien" insights, along with Ilf's photographs make ILF AND PETROV'S AMERICAN ROAD TRIP an engaging book. I learned a few things about the United States in the Depression. The photographs in particular were instructive. And it was interesting, and amusing, to see how these two intelligent Soviet satirists went about reprocessing what they saw through the lens of 1930's Soviet Communist ideology. For make no mistake, they were committed ideologues.
The eleven articles or chapters include ones on New York City (where they were chaperoned by John Dos Passos), small towns (all of which seemed the same), American Indians, Hollywood, Negroes, and Mark Twain (an American literary hero to the Soviets; Ilf and Petrov made a point of visiting Twain's birthplace in Hannibal, Missouri on their trip). To give you an idea of their style and their biases, here is a sampling of quotes from the book:
* "A Spaniard and a Pole worked in the barbershop where we got our hair cut. An Italian shined our shoes. A Croat washed our car. This was America."
* [Accompanying a photograph of an American male, whom they had picked up hitchhiking:] "One of our passengers, an out-of-work fellow from Texas. He has a little Indian blood. It's enough to have one drop of Negro blood to ruin a person's entire life. A dash of Indian blood is less destructive."
* [Accompanying a photograph of a typical American road intersection:] "We would like to use this caption for this picture: 'This right here is America!' Truly, when you close your eyes and try to resurrect in your mind the country in which you spent four months, you imagine not Washington with its gardens, columns, and complete set of memorials; not New York with its skyscrapers, with its poverty and riches; not San Francisco with its steep streets and hanging bridges; not the mountains, the factories, or the canyons, but this intersection of two roads and a gas station against a background of wires and advertising billboards."
* "There's probably nothing on earth more majestic and beautiful than the American desert. We raced along in it for a whole week and never stopped being amazed."
* "Just thinking about the general state of affairs in the United States is enough to make you fall into a deep melancholy, but the young American man doesn't think in the abstract. He's not capable of making generalizations. He just knows that he's young, he's healthy, he's got white skin, and he plays baseball. That means that everything's okay--all right--and he'll get by somehow."
* "And if you asked us now 'What did America seem like to you?' our honest answer would sound something like this: 'The most advanced technology in the world and a horrifyingly oppressive, stupefying social order.'"
You cannot stop reading from the first page to the last. Their Humour Is Astonishing.
Much Respect. Doctor Dreez!
Most recent customer reviews
I almost hate to say it, because Mark Twain is my favorite writer of all times, but this book is even better than...Read more