Pick of the Paperbacks; Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich, edited by Simon Volkov, translated from the Russian by Antonina W. Bouis. New York: Harper Colophon Books. $4.95.
Dmitri Shostakovich was one of this century's most prolific composers -- contributing some of the best symphonies and quarters of the time. And yet he worked all his life under a Soviet government that could pronounce devastating judgment on the most talented.
In these pithy, lean, incisive, and blunt memoirs, we are reminded of how destructive a totalitarian state can be to the creative arts, with sweeping revisions, condemnations, and blacklists. The book, denounced as a fraud by Shostakovich's widow and son who still live in the USSR, yet considered authentic by many readers, contains a scathing indictment of the conditions under which artists struggle in the Soviet Union, yesterday, and today.