I’ve never been to Russia, but I’ve drunk plenty of vodka. Does that count? Of course not, but the vodka thing really is no cliché. Even in the novella I read for the Russian leg of my challenge, it’s mentioned.
The Last Summer was written by Boris Pasternak, better known for the novel Dr. Zhivago. I’ve not read it, but I remember watching the tremendously long movie. As long as I’m bringing up Russian movies, a pair definitely worth watching (that’s actually Russian and not Hollywood masquerading as Russia) is the stylish vampire horrors Night Watch and Day Watch.
Not that Russian movies made by Hollywood aren’t grand. Anna Karenina is sumptuously brought to life by Joe Wright and features a magnificent performance by Keira Knightley as the title character. It’s based on a book written by Leo Tolstoy, one of Russia’s most renowned writers, a man quite fond of writing books that could also serve as doorstops. Yes, they are very, very thick, but Tolstoy’s ability to be both grandiose and intimate in his storytelling makes the long read well worth it.
There is also the wonderful work of Russian composers like Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Igor Stravinsky, and Alexander Borodin that I’ve enjoyed since I was a child. I’ve even performed Anton Chekov – a famed Russian playwright – on stage and appeared in a play that parodied his work in which I was killed by Chekov’s gun.