I enjoyed this book, right from remembering Rober Trower singing the song with the same name as the book. A good setting, eastern Europe after WWII, ..Show More »much despair, a seemingly good description of the life then, a small romance, some intrigue. I keep thinking back to the author's description of the title of the book as it relates to the story. Made me think of Thoreau and his statement of the desparatioon we all have in the lives we lead.
To be honest I had low expectations for this book, I was only reading it because I told myself I was going to read the whole series. Come on, how int..Show More »eresting can you make a story set in the 1960's in the eastern bloc of Europe about a main character working for the state security. You think drab life. But, Steinhauer did turn it into an interesting listen that I found enjoyable. There were some nice twists and turns, east meets west, and it kept me listening. I recommend tis one.
Steinhauer takes a helluva lot of risks with this novel and almost pulls them off. A hyper-original espionage/crime/revenge thriller set in Steinhaue..Show More »r's imaginary Eastern/Soviet Bloc country (smells like a mix of Hungary and Slovakia). Steinhauer has a genius for characters and he has developed many fantastic ones throughout his 36 Yalta series. IN Liberation Movements he throws a couple huge curves into the series. His two main characters are a gay secret police protégé and a revenge-seeking female homicide detective. This isn't your mother's spy novel.
Liberation Movements is sometimes a bit jumpy and the non-linear, multiple POV, narrative distracts a little from the setting, but again, I love to see Steinhauer experiment with the spy/crime format. Whatever points he loses because of its messiness, he more than makes up for because of his novelty and originality.
The narration, however, is another story. It just didn't gel with me. The multiple (5) narrators is only so-so. It really becomes a tad obnoxious listening to the narration of tape recordings (a little too meta for my taste).
In Steinhauer's 'almost brilliant' conclusion to his Yalta Boulevard Sequence(Bridge of Sighs, The Confession, 36 Yalta Boulevard, Liberation Movement..Show More »s, & Victory Square), Steinhauer examines the collapse of the moral and social order (both for a nation and individuals) when a former Eastern Block nation finally rejects its totalitarian regime and leader. 'Victory Square' is stronger and more graceful in its first half, but still manages to close out the series well.
Taken together, the five Yalta Boulevard novels are brilliant in their ability to communicate the narrative arc of East European totalitarianism in both the brutality, but also in the humanity of those individuals seeking to support and destroy its order. If you are going to read one of these novels, invest the time to read them all. While I could arm-chair quarterback my little issues with each novel, the series is definitely worth it. For me, it was similar to how I felt watching the entire HBO series 'the Wire'.
Each Yalta Blvd novel gave a unique perspective that together painted an amazing picture of a place, time and people. Even Steinhauer's conceit of using a fake country seems, in the end, to have been well played. It allowed his novels to grab interesting pieces of Hungarian, Romanian, Yugoslavian history and blend as needed. It is amazing how much good fiction can teach us.