Granddaughters: Kirovsk, 1937-2013 – Anthony Marra story from The Tsar of Love and Techno

Notes, but mostly quotes.

  • “It must be an error, they thought, a bureaucratic oversight. How could Soviet jurisprudence remain infallible if it failed to recognize innocence?”
  • “In distant cities, they were expurgated from their own histories. In photographs, they donned India ink masks. We never knew them, but we are proof they existed.”
  • “… he hadn’t risen through the ranks by giving anything away for free. For a man determined to wring maximum productivity from his prisoners before they died, the ballet proved an effective coercion.”
  • “She raised her daughter and taught schoolchildren the tenets communism.”
  • “They worked long days, adhering to the second principal of the Moral Code of the Builder of Communism: conscientious labor for the good of society – he who does not work, neither shall he eat.”
  • “They were faithful communists, children of the labor camp, with a daughter who looked like her grandmother. Galina’s father knew her best hope for prosperity would come from dulling all that made her exceptional until the plural voice accepted her as one of its own.”
  • x-ray rib records for phonograph… “our parents called the music capitalist pollution, as if the cancerous masses on the X-rays had been caused by a song recorded on the other side of the world, rather than by the pollution that flowed from the smokestacks just outside our windows, free for us all.”
  • The White Forest. Metal trees, plastic leaves.
  • “A romantic stroll around Lake Mercury.”
  • “You not only mine the fuel of the Soviet Union, he proclaimed, you are the fuel of the Soviet Union.”
  • Textbooks about Stalin being an effective leader…. “Arctic labor camps were a vital part of his drive to make the country great. We reconsidered our grandmothers. Perhaps theirs was a necessary suffering, an evil justified by a greater good…..”
  • “95% of the worlds catalytic converters are made with Kirovsk palladium and our town prospers beneath denser layers of pollution thanks to the efforts of American and European environmentalists hell-bent on keeping their skies clean.”

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