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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Monica's Story' Tiptoes Into Town




Monica Lewinsky's book about her affair with U.S. President Bill Clinton went on sale in Moscow, and immediately exposed a gender gap. The women think Clinton wronged her. The men, well ?


Mikhail, a student at the Moscow Highway Institute, wasn't about to shell out 40 rubles for "Istoriya Moniki" at Dom Delovoi Knigi, a bookstore owned by the publisher, INFO-M. "I just laughed at this story. She is not a victim at all.


"Such things are personal," he said. "How can a normal woman, not a prostitute, agree to expose herself to such an extent?"


But some soft-hearted Russian women said their attitude changed after they read about how Lewinsky was tape-recorded and betrayed by her friend Linda Tripp.


"I thought she was a beast who seduced the American president, but I don't think so after reading her story overnight," said Svetlana Lvova, saleswoman at Dom Delovoi Knigi. "Poor girl f betrayed by her best friend, how much she suffered!


"Men are not interested," Lvova said. "They say they are buying the book for their wives or female colleagues."


INFO-M has scaled back its expectations for the book after the bombing of Yugoslavia, saying the war made now a bad time to launch a book linked to the United States and Clinton. The first printing is now 10,000, not 50,000. Originally, the publisher thought the book might sell as many as 400,000 copies.


The publisher kept the first printing small "to check out the market," said spokeswoman Galina Tabachnikova. About 200 copies had sold by midafternoon Tuesday, and next week INFO-M plans to put the book on sale in other Moscow bookstores and stalls.


But the problem might turn out to be the subject, not the timing. The first Monica book f the sexually explicit report by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr f did not sell well in Russia, positioned on booksellers' tables next to the romance selections.


There was no agitated demand Tuesday in the bookstore, located at 9 Marxistskaya Ulitsa. People drifted by the prominent display, and some bought the book and some didn't, but no one interviewed said they were not buying in protest against NATO's airstrikes on Yugoslavia.


"There is no political reason. I am just not interested in her story," said one young woman. "There are too many worthy people to read about to waste time on this book."


But Vladislav, 22, a law student, said he will buy two f one for himself and one to give to somebody. "Of course we must read Tolstoy, Pushkin, Gumilev. But when everything is orderly and everything is PC, it is not exciting.


"Life is life and it must contain such controversial things not to be boring," he said.


The book, "Monica's Story," co-written with Princess Diana's biographer Andrew Morton, went on sale in the United States and Great Britain last month. The Russian version is 380 pages in softcover with photos of Monica the baby, Monica as a child, Monica with friends and, of course, Monica with Clinton.


Despite earlier reports in Russian newspapers that Lewinsky's visit to Russia had been canceled, INFO-M says she still might come in June.


Tatiana Makarova, spokeswoman for Vagrius publishing house, which is organizing the visit for INFO-M, said, "I am very surprised with the high interest in this person." Makarova added that her company is getting "lots of telephone calls every day about Lewinsky."


"Before NATO's airstrikes on Yugoslavia many were pitying her. Now some people are saying that they can't guarantee they would not attack her, they say we arecrazy to invite her to Russia.


"You have seen those eggs flying at the American embassy here. But broken glass is one thing, and here is a human being who has survived a year of personal attacks on her," she said. "Not everyone could stand it."