BLAST FROM THE PAST

“For you in America, it’s a big drama, but for us, it’s just funny. Your Clinton is a young, healthy, good-looking man! Where’s the misfortune? Look at our half-dead Yeltsin… If we found out Boris Nikolaevich was sleeping with a young girl, we would declare a national holiday.”

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“…for Raisa, the elderly pensioner with whom I was living, she only turned on the news when it was about the Lewinsky scandal. “I don’t watch our news — it’s so dark. It leaves you feeling bad.” “Monica Lewinsky leaves me feeling bad, too,” I said. Raisa shrugged. “For you in America, it’s a big drama, but for us, it’s just funny. Your Clinton is a young, healthy, good-looking man! Where’s the misfortune? Look at our half-dead Yeltsin… If we found out Boris Nikolaevich was sleeping with a young girl, we would declare a national holiday.”

— from “The Possessed (Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them)” by Elif Batuman (Farrar Strauss & Giroux 2010) p. 95.