They Lived They Were at Brighton Beach by Ivan Brave


After Ilya, an Electronic Dance Music DJ in NYC, gets dumped, he attempts to win back his girlfriend with a special summer performance for the release of his first EP.  But a new woman and other unforeseen forces have their own plans for Ilya.  

“Beauty begs to be repeated,” Ilya’s roommate quotes.  Using music as a metaphor, the novel lays bare an improvisational process to cull beauty to be repeated from life’s dregs.  Conceived as the offspring of an old couple who never has kids, the book is a story within a story.  The couple is present in the novel, dialoguing through footnotes.  Their story, and more ancient tales inform Ilya’s story.  Contemporary circumstances tied to classic references create a universal appeal.

Ilya, part mom and part dad, strives for his own identity from layers of sources he mixes into his own sound.  The immediacy of his feelings shapes the text into a series of vibrant and conscientious vignettes.  Reading is a soul-full glimpse into the inner workings of an artist’s heart.   

The book resides in points of change.  Ilya finds renewed motivation after losing his girlfriend, who is on the verge of fame.  Julia, Ilya’s new lover, is on the verge of divorce.  The club where he DJs is on the verge of closure.  Legends and myths alluded to throughout the story feature protagonists proving themselves when the world assumes they have nothing more to give.  Looping within a circle of neither now and not yet, here and there, both dream and real, high and sober, ethereal and earthy, the book’s groove is liminal, while also moving ever forward, toward creation and freshness.  The twists and turns of Ilya’s on-the-edge existence make for an on-the-edge-of-the-seat read.  The pacing is fluid, flowing between genres, time periods and perspectives seamlessly.

Cyrillic words and Russian culture add an exotic flavor.

Ivan Brave’s second novel is a collective space where music, a diverse cast, and timeless ideas dance together on that line that connects dots into a beautiful, moving, one-of-a-kind composition.   My review of Ivan Brave’s previous novel    

Author: marilivtollefson

I teach and play violin when not reading and reviewing books. Thanks to indie authors for opening my world and sharing theirs! Find my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Kobo, Midwest Book Review and BookPage, among others.

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