By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton | NoisyRoom.net
One of my greatest joys and honors has been knowing Oleg Atbashian… the owner of The People’s Cube, a superb author, and one of the most gifted graphic artists I have ever known.
Oleg comes from Russia but he is American through and through. Over the years it has become evident to me that those who have experienced the oppression of true communism are the most adamant defenders of freedom out there. Oleg’s latest book: Hotel USSR: Memoirs of a Soviet ‘non-Artist’ is based on his own life story.
As a child, Oleg was a gifted artist with dreams like the rest of us, but under communism, you are selected for your vocation and if you are not willing to follow the diktats of the leadership you find yourself in very hot water. I found his telling of his childhood journey and what he went through very compelling and amusing.
Amazon describes the book this way:
As a child, he was promised abundance and freedom in a communist paradise. In that bright future, he dreams of being an artist. But as he grows up, he discovers that his dream is based on a fraud and that his country is really a dictatorship governed by bullies, liars, and thieves. He and the girl he loves find themselves trapped in a labyrinth of a dysfunctional utopia they call “Hotel USSR.” Every aspect of their lives is regulated by improbable rules that override human nature. To live their dream, they decide to break the law. This takes him on a series of tragicomical adventures that feel like acts in the theater of the absurd: a worker in Siberian oil fields, an army conscript, an inmate at a forensic psychiatry facility, a visual propaganda artist, a Soviet dissident, and an immigrant to America. And everywhere he goes he draws pictures…
Oleg’s life is one long adventure. He did the artwork for NoisyRoom.net and he has always been kind and generous when I’ve asked something of him. He has drawn the covers of books of some of the very best authors out there: Trevor Loudon, Cliff Kincaid, Paul Kengor, Larry Grathwohl, and others. You can see some of his work here.
Here is what Oleg wrote after he finished his latest work:
I’m happy to report that I’ve just published my second book, Hotel USSR. It’s a story of а young man coming of age in a totalitarian state. He wants to be an artist but he isn’t authorized to buy paints. He wants to see the world but the authorities brand him as politically unreliable. He wants to get married but the system separates him from his bride. He listens to Hotel California and wishes he had their problems: he himself is stuck in a real-life trap that he “can never leave,” and he calls it Hotel USSR. To check out, he must break every rule in the book.
This young man is me and this is my real life story. People have often asked me what growing up in the USSR felt like. This book is my answer. It’s illustrated with my own drawings and paintings, which I did in my twenties before I quit drawing. The reason for quitting is in there as well.
In addition to it being humorous and entertaining, I hope this story can be an eye-opener for younger people who may naively believe in the false promise of socialism. Rather than debating Marxism directly, I demonstrate how it fails in practice and what absurdities ensue when the entire state lives in denial of its failures, forcing people not to trust their own eyes. The book describes socialism as an attempt to regulate human existence in cumbersome ways that defy human nature, leaving no doubt that to build “real socialism that works” is no more possible than to build a house based on an optical illusion.
I highly recommend Hotel USSR: Memoirs of a Soviet ‘non-Artist’. If you want to know what it is like to have to live under communism/socialism, this book is a must-read. It’s also a cautionary tale to young Americans on why they should avoid the evils of Marxism at all costs. Pick up a copy at Amazon – I know you will love it as much as I did.
1 thought on “Book Review… Hotel USSR: Memoirs of a Soviet ‘non-Artist’”
I read this wonderful memoir this weekend. I, too, couldn’t put it down and could not wait for the resolution to this tale of oppression of a true free spirit. Oleg has a way of writing that gently but firmly takes you along for the ride. He always gets to the point quickly without any injury to the reader. I teared up sometimes when reading what he went through but I was never gut-wrenched because Oleg wrote it without a smidgen of self pity.
When Oleg wrapped it up at the end, I felt like I had just binge-watched a part of my own life, not nearly as severe as Oleg’s, but severe enough for me. A wonderfully satisfying read.