Honey for the Bears- Anthony Burgess

“Comrade Kamarzin is sorry for going too far. But there is no proof anything. There is nobody to say you did not enter these headquarters in the condition you now enjoy.”

 

I picked up Anthony Burgess’s Honey for the Bears right after A Clockwork Orange. Encouraged by the enjoyment of the previous novel and the idea of a 60’s critique of Soviet Russia, I cracked the spine.

Honey for the Bears tells the story of Paul Hussey and his final trip to Soviet Russia. Accompanied by his sickly American wife, the British WWII veteren(Keep in mind, the war only ended a few years prior) heads to the Red State to sell English dresses for a recently deceased friend. Needless to say, the trip doesn’t go as planned.

After his wife’s malady confines her to a Soviet hospital, Paul is forced to sell the dresses on his own. When the black market scheme goes sour, our British commoner is forced to live the life of the Russian proletariat. The satirical narrative comes with Tolstoyian misadventures and copious amounts of vodka.

So is Anthony Burgess’s Cold War satire Honey for the Bears dated? Much like Burgess’s other novels, the characters seem to not stray from their literary archetypes. With his love for Joyce and Shakespeare, Paul Hussey’s Soviet stories are fun, intelligent, and downright bizarre, but certainly only for fans of Burgess.

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