Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy

By her own admission, author Vesna Goldworthy's book Gorsky owes its inspiration to F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby. Her book is a "Gatsbyesque" read-a-like. One wonders why she wanted to use her creativity on a 21st century tweaked update of the 20th century predecessor. Title character Gorsky is a fabulously wealthy, as well as generous, Russian in contemporary London where he hopes to acquire the love of his life, Natalia, a willowy blonde Russian who is married to a less than honorable Brit. This is not to say that Gorsky is honorable since his wealth has been founded on the shadowy economic opportunities and activities of the Yeltsin era.

The story is told through the eyes of Serbian refugee/immigrant Nikola, who works in a run-down bookstore. Through circumstances he meets Natalia, Gorsky and others connected with each of them - designer's, artists, architects. Many of the cast of characters have connections to Russian mafia, drug dealing, adulterous liaisons and generally superficial lives supported by various levels of wealth. Gorsky hires Nikola to create a large and expensive book collection for the library in the cavernous house Gorsky is building in London. Nikola, while slightly beguiled by his contacts, especially Gorsky, in the end remains uncluttered in his life by possessions due to modest means and integral choice.

The back cover extols the book with praiseworthy descriptors, none of which I felt while reading the book. The advance reader cover summary speaks of Gorsky as wanting and getting the best of everything. Spoiler alert - he doesn't - either in the story or by the storyteller.

Goldsworthy does only an adequate job and perhaps she may stylistically echo Fitzgerald. If you are a Gatsby fan, give this book a try and see what you think. The book is due out in October from Overlook Press. I had been intrigued when I found it among the advance reader books at my local library. In disappointed retrospect, I should have probably overlooked it.

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