Reading Alexievich, a relentless record of voices. It’s like Dostoyevsky, blood on the pages. We want the tsar, then it’s kill the tsar. Men go into battle prodded by bayonets. Horrible deaths, superhuman survivals. Anything could happen, anything does. It’s like Mandelstam. Fear drives memory, fear threatens hope. Blood covers the floor, colours the rivers. Stalin was strong, Stalin was a bastard. Lives seem stable, they break apart. It’s gangsters and thieves from top to bottom. Gorbachev was visionary, Gorbachev was gutless. August 1991, October Revolution not. Freedom is a Gucci bag. Once read samizdat, now read glossies. What happened?