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The fashionable writer Viktor Pelevin provides this neat little paradox in his latest novel, Chapayev and Pustota:

“Foreigners, of whom there is an incredible number in Moscow, have for many years dressed in such a way that they could not be discerned from ordinary passers-by-for security reasons. Most of them got their ideas on the appearance of the ordinary Moscow passer-by from CNN broadcasts, of course. And CNN, seeking to portray Muscovites as they follow the ghost of democracy through the scorched desert of reforms, has in 90 cases out of 100 presented viewers with close-ups of U.S. Embassy staff dressed as Muscovites, because they looked much more true-to-life than Muscovites who had been trying to dress as foreigners.”

One may question the generalization in this passage, but Pelevin, after all, is a novelist, not a journalist, and even if he writes something that is blatantly wrong but does it in an endearing way, his readers will admire him and not sling overripe tomatoes at him. (more…)

Posted: May 8th, 1997