Thoughts on The Dream Life of Sukhanov at half way point

One review has used the word ‘confusing’ to describe this book and it is confusing because dreams merge into waking hours and the past crops up in the present.

But in a sense that perhaps is the point that in communist Russia your dreams and past remained buried. Ironically it is the inability of art critic Anatoly Sukhanov to tell of his past and dreams that makes his life more likely to fall apart.

he has spent his life towing the party line, thinking of art without emotion but politically and has made a comfortable life for himself. But as his life starts to fall apart he hears echoes in the past and is unable, at this stage at least, to vent his thoughts to those around him that could help him get through.

“‘Don’t let anyone clip your wings,’ Pavel Sukhanov had written, and it was not, as Anatoly had previously believed, a bequest of bravery, a proud expression of defiance. It was a warning instead, a cautioning reminder that the only life worth living was a life without humiliation, a free life, a safe life – and the only sure way to avoid having one’s wings clipped was to grow no wings at all.”

In addition to the critic finding memories stirring this is set in 1985 where a whole system of political belief had just a few years left. So no wonder there are feelings of change in the air.

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