Sergei Dovlatov (sehr-GAY doh-VLAH-tov), a journalist in his mid-thirties, formerly a camp guard. Educated as a philologist, he is talented, very tall, and an alcoholic. Something of a dissident (he is part Jewish), he works for an Estonian newspaper. He is separated from his wife and behind in his alimony payments. In telling the reader the truth behind several apparently innocuous “compromising” human interest stories he had written for his newspaper, the narrator presents himself as the center of a kind of novel that ends with the reporter’s return to his family in Leningrad. It is Dovlatov as author who in fact recalls the events behind the stories, but the narrator appears to be fictional, if for no other reason than that his surname is almost never mentioned or, if it is, usually is rendered incorrectly by one of the characters, as Dolmatov, Dokladov, Zaplatov, or some other variation.
Mikhail (Misha) Borisovich Shablinsky
Mikhail (Misha) Borisovich Shablinsky (boh-RIH-soh-vihch shah-BLIH-skee), a reporter for the “industry desk” at the newspaper, an excellent but cynical writer who is ruthlessly successful with women. He finally decides to get married and therefore breaks up with Marina, who in turn takes up with Dovlatov. Shablinsky is an established journalist and a...
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