"My God! My God!" muttered the astounded creator, his eyes fixed on the statue of Stalin. But it's alive, really alive, isn't it? he asked himself, amazed that he hadn't noticed it before.

"Calm down!" Zinaida told her husband quietly but firmly, sticking a coarse cigarette with an icicle dangling from its frozen cardboard tube into her mouth.

"No," said Ogorodov, without making it clear what he was rejecting, then he reached out his arms to his creation and shouted: "Hey!" And then again: "Hey! Hey!"

"Who are you yelling at?" Kuzhelnikov asked in arrogant amazement.

"Not you," said Ogorodov, dismissing the other's elevated rank out of hand. And he called out again: "Hey! Hey! Hey!"

Astounded, the people standing beside Ogorodov drew away from him just in case he might be crazy, and he stepped toward the monument with his arms raised aloft in passion and shouted to it: "Hey, say something!"

Of course, he was not the first sculptor to address such a request to his own work. Long before his time the great Michelangelo had asked the same thing of the Moses he had created. But the people . . . exchanged glances, some of them in fact suspecting -- respectfully, of course -- that perhaps the sculptor was not quite all there: after all, he was an artist.

-- From Vladimir Voinovich's

"Monumental Propaganda"