It's a fictional story about Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nurejev. From his humble and poor Tatar upbringing, to when he studied at the famous Kirov in St Petersburg, to his jump to the west where he was adored by royalty and celebrities. And to his ultimate fall, his love affairs which brings him to his deathbed in Aids.My problem with real characters is that I always have to google them, so yes I knew that he defected (not like I wouldn't have otherwise, he was too big for Soviet), and that he would die of Aids. )I loved this book, ask me to explain and I don't know why. It just took me by surprise, McCann is a master with words and he knows how to spin a story. It all begins with soldiers coming home from WWII, and how they are bathed in Rudolfs home town of Ufa. It's glimpses out to the real world and they are shown through out the book."They looked out over the steppe and saw the bodies of fellow soldiers, a hand in the air, a knee in a stretch, beards frozen with frost, and they leaned to steal the dead man's clothes before he became stiffened in them, and they leaned in to whisper, Sorry comrade thanks for the tobacco."Rather then seeing the world through his eyes, we see the world around him through those of his friends, family, and strangers. And in the beginning through his eyes the sentences are short, like thoughts sometimes. He is so busy so he only thinks of the things he must do to get better. The thing I then love is the fact that we see the world though the eyes of others, not only what they think about him, but how they are feeling. Hungry, tired, loved, everything that is crucial in life. I truly enjoy these glimpses into their lives. Some are fictional and some of them are real. McCann is not afraid to show the real world, and not some glamour bubble around one of the worlds greatest dancers.Even though I do love this book, the end of the 3rd part and the 4th part gets tiresome. There is a lot of how he screwed everything that moved through out the 60's to the 80's. He really should be in sex addicts anonymous. Not to mention that is what killed him. Not explicit sex scenes no this is not that kind of book. But it's just so much, and it's so depressing.Still it's a lovely portrait of a man loved by ballet fans. McCann waves the fabric of his life into a wonderful tapestry which I highly recommend to all. He shows him to be what he was, arrogant and temperamental, still loved by all. They couldn't help it.