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    Sobriquet 45.4

    Monday, August 4, 2008
    Since it's really late and because I feel the reading I did today deserves more than an offhanded late-night synopsis, I'll not write much this evening. I will, however, use this space to express my sadness upon learning of Alexander Solzhenitsyn's passing. As a teenager, I distinctly remember watching a television documentary about the author while he was still living in exile in Vermont and growing utterly fascinated with the man. As soon as I could, I cadged a ride to the tiny Waldenbooks near my home and bought One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. I have never forgotten how harrowing I found Solzhenitzen's story to be and, when I revisited the novel a few years ago, I was pleased to discover that, for me, Ivan Denisovich, like Moby-Dick and Slaughterhouse-Five, is as stunning and powerful a book on a second or third reading as it was when I first cracked the novel's spine that afternoon in New Jersey.

    For better or worse, it seems, we only pay tribute to great people when we no longer have the blessing of their presence in this world. Forgive me, then, if I have not said so while the man was still with us, but Alexander Solzhenitsyn is a vital voice in the discordant chorus of human history and we can only hope that his absence will serve to amplify the crucial messages the author smuggled out of the snow-swept Siberian gulags, wrought into heart-wrenching prose, and bestowed to the world. May you rest in peace, Mr. Solzhenitsyn.

    For tomorrow: More reading.


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