Books: A Lyre for the KGB

A HERO IN HIS TIME

by ARTHUR A. COHEN

278 pages. Random House. $8.95.

Soviet Poet Yuri Maximovich Isakovsky has just made love to his secretary, who is almost certainly the office spy. In the warm indolence that follows, the lady praises one of his verses. She has gleaned far more from it, she says, than she ever learned from a course in Russian literature.

That encomium is immediately regarded as a trap. An old short-story writer warned Yuri about such hazards years ago, after the poet had offered compliments for a tale. "Did I...

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