This was somewhat entertaining read. Honestly, I am not sure why would anyone who was not part of this theater of absurd called USSR finish this book. Off course , the public disagrees with me as the book is now being translated into 15 languages, one of them being Russian. I am sure it will sound and feel totally different in Russian. "Speak, Мemory" is entirely different book from "Другие берега".
Anya von Bremzen skips around a lot omitting many details or not explaining them at all. These details are absolutely clear to anyone who grew up in Soviet Union, but if you were not so fortunate I am not sure why would you care. I understand that she was trying to humanize the life in the Soviet Union and give it a personal touch, but there is too much personal touch and not enough facts and evidence. I am not sure if it is even possible to write a book about this crazy experience. The chapter about modern day Russia could have been written by anyone, it totally lacks perspective, which is understandable. After all, it is written by an American, albeit very worldly and cultured and one who speaks Russian.
With regard to the recipes given at the end of the book, I think they are pretty banal. You can find them in other cook books devoted to Russian cuisine. What would have been interesting, if she would have given recipes of how to prepare something out of nothing, the art that is completely lost now, but that our mothers mastered so beautifully. Like hundred different desserts out of a can of condensed milk, or an entire dinner made out of potatoes.
While I was reading this book I kept thinking what would non-Russians get out of this. And what do we get out of reading books about foreign cultures? I love doing that, but may be I am just as clueless.