To Ukraine, with love

'Love & Vodka' details authors transatlantic courtship


WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 — Infatuation, puppy love, love at first sight — call it what you will, but author R.J. Fox took it to new heights after a serendipitous meeting with a beautiful young woman at Universal Studios.

“In 20 minutes I knew this was the girl I was meant to marry,” Fox said.

The only impediment (at least in Fox’s mind), was that she was catching a cab to begin her journey home to Ukraine. But that did not deter Fox. After months of emails and dreaming, he found himself on a plane to Ukraine with an engagement ring. The target of his affection, Katya, knew nothing about this engagement business, and Fox had only two weeks to pull off this whirlwind romance and seal the deal.

Fox has put the details of this uncommon courtship into his debut memoir, “Love & Vodka.”

Nothing can stand in his way, not even copious amounts of vodka or having to stay with the girl’s parents in a typical Soviet-era flat. (He is cautioned against looking out the window but not about the cold showers.)

“It was one bizarre experience after another,” he said. “The hardest part was the language.”

The author, who is a literature teacher at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School, originally wrote the story as a screen play. It didn’t sell, so he converted it to prose.

The author will be at Schuler Books & Music's Okemos location tonight for a author talk and book signing. He said the book is “95 percent” accurate, with some “slight exaggerations” and time shifting.

“I get bored of the status quo,” he said “But this was by far the most crazy thing I had ever done.”

“Love & Vodka” is the first book for a new Ann Arbor publishing firm, “Fish Out of Water,” which seeks to publish books like Fox’s — incredible true stories.

Fox admits that he was clearly a fish out of water during his trip to Ukraine. But growing up as a “nerdy/dorky” kid, Fox learned to not worry about what people think.

“Writing was distraction for me as a child,” he said.

And for those who are concerned about the extended drinking scenes in the book, don’t worry. They do not glamorize alcohol consumption.

“I never liked vodka,” Fox confessed.

But he did like Katya and there will be no spoiler here. You will have to read the book to find out if Fox’s romancing with the stone ended in a marriage.

R.J. Fox

Author talk and book signing

7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan 13


Schuler Books & Music (Meridian Mall location)

1982 Grand River Drive, Okemos

(517) 349-8840,


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