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Christened with Crosses: Notes Taken on My…
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Christened with Crosses: Notes Taken on My Knees

by Eduard Kochergin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I won a copy of this book through early reviewers on Library Thing and I'm happy I was able to read this interesting story... Held my attention throughout. ( )
  Reesa111 | Jan 14, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When Eduard Kochergin was a very young boy (only 2 or 3 years old) his mother was sent to jail in Russia as a spy. His father had suffered a similar fate before Eduard was even born. For a while he and his brother Felix were looked after by a godfather but then they were put into state orphanages. That's where they were when the Second World War started. Felix was put in a mental home and died soon after. Eduard was spirited away from an orphanage in besieged Leningrad and taken to one in Siberia. This may have saved his life since he was young and frail and may have died before the city was freed. However, it put him thousands of miles away from his birthplace where his parents would probably return. When the war was over Eduard decided to return to Leningrad and he ran away from the orphanage. It took him 6 years but he did get back there and he was reunited with his mother.

Considering Eduard was only about 8 when he first went out on his own it is simply amazing that he survived and made his way. He was a naturally gifted artist and made wire portraits of the "Leaders" (Stalin and Lenin) as well as packs of cards to earn food. He also picked up other skills like making fires, tattooing, opening doors which helped him. When cold weather came he would give himself up to authorities and spend the winter in another orphanage. He made friends with a few boys his age and was also helped by adults (many of whom didn't have much themselves). He was truly a survivor. He is now a renowned stage and set designer in St. Petersburg so the skills he used on the long road home have become his way of life.

He is quite the inspiration. ( )
  gypsysmom | Dec 18, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It is always humbling experience to read about the struggle of someone elses life, especially when that struggle happens to a child. The resilience this man displayed as a young boy was inspiring. I enjoyed this book more and more as it went along because I felt like I was getting to know and care for this young boy. It is interesting to note that situations that we would consider to be abusive and inhumane today were just an accepted and unchallenged way of life in that time and place. I also enjoyed the writing style of small topical sections. I think it helped to keep the reader moving through the story. ( )
  Iudita | Dec 15, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Reason for Reading: I enjoy this time period in history and am very interested in people who survived or escaped the evils of Communism.

This is the author's story of his childhood from when he was about 6 to 12. He starts in an orphanage in Siberia, escapes and spends the intervening years making his way across the country to his hometown of St. Petersburg (Leningrad) where he hopes to find his mother who was imprisoned during the war as a public enemy. At first I had thought this was going to be a Christian book because of the title but it is in no form that way inclined. The author explains in a brief foreword about his title ending with "The expression is capacious and ambiguous." The author is Polish Roman Catholic but that has little to do with the tale except for some cultural differences between him and the Orthodox Russians. I was a little disappointed at first, since I'd been expecting a Christian tale, but it had no affects on my enjoyment of the story.

Of course the author had a rough and tough childhood with the worst of it being in the orphanages he stayed. The one in Siberia being the worst of the worst; where the children were treated inhumanely. A good portion of the beginning is dedicated to this time of his life and here we find the reminiscences of an old man remembering when he was six to be vague. Rather than telling a story, the book starts off with vignettes and assorted remembrances that may or may not be in chronological order. I found this part of the book slow and thus hard to get into. However once he escapes and grows a bit the story starts to take on more coherence and reads more like a book, rather than snippets. He spends the summers traveling the rails, meeting up with all kinds of people, some good, some bad and he learns survival skills from some while learning trades from others. Already good at drawing he became a skilled artist, drawing decks of cards, shaping the two leaders out of wire, learnt to paint from a Chinese man and learnt the Japanese method of tattooing. These skills would forever keep him just beyond starvation over the years. He meets fellow orphan (or half) travellers like himself along the way making good friends. Some of them have happy endings to their stories, others do not. But overshadowing the whole journey is the fear and terror of the communist soldiers, guards, inspectors, government officials; who if they found him illegally riding the trains could easily send him back to Siberia and make his journey for nought. In the winters he would find a city orphanage to report too, tell them the truth about the last orphanage he was at and where he was headed and he would be put up. He'd be warm and half-way fed, possibly beat, but sometimes educated and then come spring he'd hit the rails again.

An interesting story of a life that so many must have lived at that time. So many families were torn apart by communism and the struggle of the littlest ones trying to find their way back home to someone who loves them is a heart-rending read. ( )
1 vote ElizaJane | Nov 18, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This short book charmed me from the first page - even though the background to the author's experiences was anything but charming. However, shining through the writing were the beacons of hope which he had kept lit ahead of him on his journey; such that even if he had to take a step back into the system or to take a detour to avoid more persecution he never gave up on his goal and dream.

The nicknames for everyone takes a little getting used to - but I found the translation very readable (unlike the last translated book I read). The author is honest that it is not a full account, rather snippet over the journey which he made short notes of and then has used to describe his reminiscences. ( )
1 vote wungu | Oct 20, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
"Academician Eduard Kochergin, a titled master, who has created legendary performances together with theatrical producers on the stages of the leading Russian and foreign theatres, has an equally good command of the word and of the brush. A veteran of modern culture and art, who was the artistic director of the Bolshoi Drama Theatre in St. Petersburg for a long time, has written memoirs of his difficult childhood. It is a very powerful document from a historical standpoint. It is the absolute truth written by a talented and wise man who has lived a long life."
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eduard Kocherginprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chordas, NinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Patterson, SimonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To the memory of Mother Bronya, Bronislava Odynyets
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Glagoslav Publications Ltd.

2 editions of this book were published by Glagoslav Publications Ltd..

Editions: 908182399X, 1909156132

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