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Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier

Travels in Siberia
By David Owens

Ian Frazier is a well known writer, and he is also an avid reader.

His “Travels in Siberis” is a collection produced over a dozen years of visits and reading about Siberia.

The first line of his book reads, “Travels in Siberia’ Conjures a Place That Doesn’t Really Exist.”

And truthfully trying to describe a region this large as any kind of cohesive place is impossible.


“What I have to say next concerns the Omsk airport men’s room. I regret this. I’ve noticed that in books by Siberian travelers of the past they don’t talk about bathrooms, and that’s probably good. I reluctantly break with this tradition for two reasons. First, I am an American, and Americans pay attention to and care about bathrooms … The men’s room at the Omsk airport was unbelievably disgusting. Stepping through the door, or even near the door, was like receiving a blow to the face from the flat of a hand… The floor was strewn with filth of a wide and eye-catching variety.”

And another:

“Avvakum and the other exiles eventually are marching back to Moscow, and the months of journeying drag on and on, Avvakum records a conversation between himself and his wife that is a Russian moment for the ages. The two are among a group walking along on ice, unable to keep up with the horses, and Avvakum says, “My poor old woman tramped along, tramped along, and at last she fell, and another weary soul stumbled over her, and he fell too, and they both screamed, and were not able to get up… And I came up, and she, poor soul, began to complain to me, saying, ‘How long, archpriest, are these sufferings to last? And I said, ‘Markovna! till our death.” And she, with a sigh, answered, ‘So be it, Petrovich; let us be getting on our way.’”
Travels in Siberia

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