Leslie Epstein Anne Marie Stamford - Essay

Anne Marie Stamford

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

If you can imagine a Woody Allen movie with the screenplay by Kurt Vonnegut, you'll have a good idea of what [P. D. Kimerakov] is like. Unfortunately for us, Mr. Epstein lacks the Vonnegut wit and the spontaneity of Woody Allen to pull it off.

It seems to me that Mr. Epstein has written a spoof on all the Russian spoofs of the sixties (pre-detente era). Pavel Donatovitch Kimerakov, "our hero," is a Russian scientist who is doing secret research on the aging problem that is afflicting Russian astronauts in space. He is sent to America for a gerontologists' convention…. Russian and American agents pop in and out in a myriad of unlikely guises, and some very funny slapstick scenes result. The problem is that these little comedy gems are buried in pages of interminable descriptions, such as two pages on a spider spinning a web, which reminded me of a physics textbook.

The book is narrated by an insidious Russian, who is never really fully identified. He constantly extols the virtues of Communism and spouts Russian wisdom, such as "A pig wearing trousers will roll in the mud." The narrator is good, and he preserves the absurd flavor of the novel, but he jumps around dizzily from one scene to another and at times becomes confusing.

My final verdict on this book is that it is funny, but simply not interesting. It might be enjoyed by adults who delight in a really nonsensical farce.

Anne Marie Stamford, in a review of "P. D. Kimerakov," in Best Sellers (copyright © 1975 Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation), Vol. 35, No. 5, August, 1975, p. 162.