Better Dead Than Red

Novelist Ken Kalfus performs an autopsy on the Soviet state; Wendell Steavenson has Georgia on her mind

Wendell Steavenson: "I was voluntarily sipping Borjomi, salty Georgian mineral water, hating the Russians and sitting about doing nothing. Perhaps I was becoming a Georgian."
Thomas Dworzak/Magnum
Wendell Steavenson: "I was voluntarily sipping Borjomi, salty Georgian mineral water, hating the Russians and sitting about doing nothing. Perhaps I was becoming a Georgian."

Most of all, Steavenson remembers how to feel, preserving a necessary, empathetic horror even as she registers the all-too-routine degradation. "All burnt houses look the same," she concludes, "but there is nothing to be done about it. The best we can do is to respect our family, love our friends, open a bottle of wine."

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