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A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka
A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka: A Memoir | Lev Golinkin
10 posts | 5 read | 35 to read
A compelling story of two intertwined journeys: a Jewish refugee family fleeing persecution and a young man seeking to reclaim a shattered past. In the twilight of the Cold War (the late 1980s), nine-year old Lev Golinkin and his family cross the Soviet border with only ten suitcases, $600, and the vague promise of help awaiting in Vienna. Years later, Lev, now an American adult, sets out to retrace his family's long trek, locate the strangers who fought for his freedom, and in the process, gain a future by understanding his past. Lev Golinkin's memoir is the vivid, darkly comic, and poignant story of a young boy in the confusing and often chilling final decade of the Soviet Union. It's also the story of Lev Golinkin, the American man who finally confronts his buried past by returning to Austria and Eastern Europe to track down the strangers who made his escape possible . . . and say thank you. Written with biting, acerbic wit and emotional honesty in the vein of Gary Shteyngart, Jonathan Safran Foer, and David Bezmozgis, Golinkin's search for personal identity set against the relentless currents of history is more than a memoirit's a portrait of a lost era. This is a thrilling tale of escape and survival, a deeply personal look at the life of a Jewish child caught in the last gasp of the Soviet Union, and a provocative investigation into the power of hatred and the search for belonging. Lev Golinkin achieves an amazing featand it marks the debut of a fiercely intelligent, defiant, and unforgettable new voice.
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“It was considered an intractable disease that demanded the most aggressive treatment.” Ugh.

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This Dollar Store book was a delightful surprise. A memoir of a 10 year old Jewish boy and his family leaving the Soviet Union in 1989 under extreme duress. Filled with info that I somehow had been unaware of - the pressure by the US for 40 years to allow Jews to leave the USSR, the work done by so many volunteers to assist in the exodus. The author provides many thought provoking passages and somehow intersperses humor through some of the story.

Suet624 Sure, I could have cleaned up that pile of books and removed that random piece of paper before taking the photo but, hey, this is just an accurate representation of my life. 5mo
saresmoore I find I‘m much less likely to post if I have to move clutter first. I‘ve become a creative photo cropper. 😅 5mo
Suet624 @saresmoore thank you for your understanding. I have to admit though that I cropped this photo so you wouldn‘t see the toilet paper roll sitting in the table. Snotty noses currently abound. 5mo
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AlaMich I‘m Jewish and I had a distant cousin and his family who emigrated from the USSR about 40 years ago. I never understood why the government fought against letting them leave; it was (and is) an extremely anti-Semitic culture. You‘d think they would have been happy to get rid of them. (edited) 5mo
batsy Cleaned up? The background is perfect ❤️ My clutter on the other hand ... It's why I just take pics of books flat on a table top 😂 5mo
Suet624 @AlaMich I‘ve been thinking about this since I read the book. Others have said the same thing to me. I still can‘t figure it out. I often wonder who was the next in line to be hated. Must there always be a culture or faith that needs to be hated and controlled? 5mo
Suet624 @batsy haha. I understand. My apartment is so small and filled with kid toys and books that it‘s downright embarrassing. But who has time to lead a rich life AND clean? 5mo
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Seriously, I love the Dollar Store. 💕💕 The top book, the tagged one, looks really good and Kate Braestrup‘s memoirs always pull on my heartstrings.

LauraBeth Dollar Tree gets good remainders! 13mo
Suet624 @LauraBeth oh right! It‘s the Dollar Tree! And yes, they do. 13mo
Eggs ♥️♥️dollar stores 13mo
Suet624 @Eggs Yes! The Dollar Tree closest to me never has books unfortunately but I found a new Dollar Tree that had a huge pile! Color me happy. 😂😂 12mo
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Chiropractor: “Let me see your purse”
Me: reluctantly handing it over
Chiropractor: “This is too heavy!”
Me: “well, I have a book”
Chiropractor: “Do you always carry a book?”
Me: “Sometimes; yes”
Chiropractor: “Do me a favor and use a backpack for now on”
Well, thanks to jaw clenching stress and a neck completely out of line, I‘m the proud owner of a new backpack purse to carry my book! 😂

ErinSueMreads *things only Litsy understands* 2y
Cortg @ErinSueG Yes! Love my Littens! 2y
BarbaraTheBibliophage Only one book? Hey, you were using restraint!! 😍 2y
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ErinSueMreads @Cortg it‘s so true. Littens are the best humans! 2y
wanderinglynn My chiropractor has lectured me about my oversized bag too. 😆 But what‘s a reader to do? I always have a minimum of 2 books with me at all times (one I‘m reading & a backup in case I finish the first). But I haven‘t found a backpack I like as much as my bag. 🤔 2y
rubyslippersreads I‘m normally not a backpack fan, but I really like this one. Plus it looks like it will hold several books. 😄 2y
Cortg @BarbaraTheBibliophage Well, I always have my phone with a few books on it 🤷🏼‍♀️ 2y
Cortg @rubyslippersreads @wanderinglynn It will take some getting used to but yes, it will hold multiple books, keeps it‘s shape and has enough compartments to keep me organized. I really don‘t carry that much 🙃 2y
Bklover That‘s awesome! 2y
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Today it‘s one from my TBR list for Nov 8th, it sounds really interesting, but I haven‘t tracked it down yet.

Robothugs I have this! Haven‘t read it yet! Part of the TBR pile! 😝 2y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Robothugs We‘ll get to it eventually, right! 2y
Robothugs Yes, eventually! 😉 2y
Gezemice It does look interesting! I seem to be in a #russian phase, too... 2y
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I completely forgot about #recommendsday yesterday, but had been discussing this book and how much I loved it in a forum recently.

Lev is about to graduate from Boston College when he realizes that his escape from Ukraine in the last days of the Soviet Union when he was 9 changed his life drastically. He decides to retrace the journey his family took, and find all those dear people who helped them along the way. #bestof2016

Cortg This sounds great! 3y
EvieBee @Cortg It is! Dark comedy. 3y
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Another crazy book title I saw at the library. #crazybooktitles #creativebooktitles #library #bookspotting

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Okay guys my team and I are all naming our backpacks for our big humanitarian backpacking adventure. I need help thinking of a great literary one. So far my teammate Sam named his "Mr. Frodo". I need to top this. Help!!

BookishTrish Gordiefrom Stephen King's 3y
TheNextBook This is more difficult that I thought it would be! Christine 3y
Theresa The 1st thing that popped into my mind was Quasimodo because I always feel like a bit of a hunchback when I have a backpack on. 3y
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BookHermit I like Quasimodo, too! Or Cheryl after Cheryl Strayed 3y
Shortstack You could do Gandalf the Grey ;) 3y
TheNextBook @Theresa I love Quasimodo! Thats awesome 3y
Em890 Odysseus? Quixote? I am blanking on others at the moment, but I'll definitely let you know if I think of any others. 3y
[DELETED] 1409720085 Quasimodo is a stroke of genius. 3y
AlienBritt You could call it "The Luggage" from Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa Mr Frodo is awesome, especially since his name is Sam! Sorry, I know that's no help, but I have to give credit where credit is due! 3y
readinginthedark Or "My Precious" ? 3y
drokka What was the hippogryph's name in the Harry Potter books? That's what that giant, yet loyal gryphon slash pterodactyl type thingy was? Or Haggrid. 3y
Bookworm-Bobbie How about Horatio from Shakespeare's Hamlet? Or Watson from Sherlock Holmes? Both very loyal sidekicks. 3y
Peddler410 @drokka The hippogryph's name is Buckbeak. 3y
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The title is what first got my attention, but I'm so glad it did! It's a memoir of a Jewish man who grew up 1980's Soviet Union & follows his family's journey leaving, life as refugees in Europe & trying to find their way in the U.S. It's hard to believe he's only a few years older than me. Read it!

Mayread This title has a very different meaning in West Hollywood. 4y
Robothugs Glad to see a good review about this book! It's next on my list. 4y
Merethebookgal @Robothugs Awesome, I hope you like it and I'll be interested to hear your thoughts! I must say I didn't know much about the Cold War era and the Soviet Union, so some parts of his early life took me by surprise. It sounded like how things would have been during WWII but it was going on the in 80's. 4y
EvieBee So glad you loved this one too! I was thinking the same thing! Not too much older than me. This is a favorite of mine from this year. 3y
Merethebookgal @EvieBee84 Yay, I'm glad that someone else I know has read it! It's a great story. 3y
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