As for me, I can’t say that I am well in history.
I belong to the category of people who do not experience the pleasure of reading weighty volumes of monotonous historical works and do not always remember the dates of the reign of kings in distant eras from the first time.
My desire to touch the old times is expressed mainly in the love of looking at the bas-reliefs and stained glass windows of medieval cathedrals.
I really like that frequent feeling of a traveler when you are walking down the street, and suddenly a large old building, hidden until that moment, suddenly grows around the corner, and then you are trying to find out what it is and what era it belongs to.
When a tourist walks along a city street that keeps the secrets of history, he wants to take some action that immerses him in the mysteries and intrigues of history and “to touch” to ancient artifacts so beautifully described by writers. The traveler wants the pages of history to come to life before his eyes. A tourist wants to see costumed inhabitants or dress up in a historical costume himself, he wants to see a historical reconstruction in which residents of that era walk along these streets, wants to take part in some interactive costume show, or … read a book in the genre of Dan Brown.
In a sense, the books of Dan Brown and his imitators are the quintessence of modern tourism, they have become a kind of travel guides. People want to get around the tourist town and make sure that some of the points can be viewed as stages of a puzzle-solving quest – the same quest that the characters in the book walked through, trying to decipher the riddle.
It is always pleasant for me, due to some book, to look into the respectable living rooms of the middle of the last century and listen to the clever conversations about book publishing, and there is so much of it in the novel “Two-Thirds of the Ghost” by Helen McCloy.
New York, New York … Offices in Manhattan and country houses in Connecticut, fifties, mentions of a very recent war, publishing business …
The narrative unfolds in such a way that in each new scene a kind of new dimension arises, and everything turns out to be not at all what it seems. The important becomes insignificant, and something completely different comes to the fore. And thus, with a sinking heart – and with pleasure – we are waiting, where will the carefully verified idea of the author lead us?
If we understand by a detective the usual patterns of plotting such as Agatha Christie or the monotonous coordinated actions of the teams of brave cops in some TV series, then in this case the crime here is rather non-standard – it only adds a zest to the already tangled intrigue. Outwardly unremarkable conversations take on an ominous connotation if you are trying hard to guess who is the very villain who is hiding under the guise of decency, cold-bloodedly targeting the next victim.
It is hard to believe that the author is a woman, since the book is written in the traditional brisk, dryish American manner, when there is no excessive psychological and emotional depth, but at the same time there is a kind of cynical touch of knowledge of life and its economic component, and, I repeat, there are many interesting details of the literary life, which are familiar to the author “like the back of his hand.”
How to promote a book? (In the middle of the twentieth century, of course, it was only about print runs and about the classic three “writer – agent – publisher”). Can any book be promoted? What should a book have to become a bestseller? Does the text of the book reflect the personality and biography of the author?
The book returns to all these questions from different and, what is especially pleasant, paradoxical points of view.
Since there is no exact criterion, the publishing business smells of speculation. From the very beginning, the manuscript is judged subjectively depending on the tastes and whims of the publishers. The literary success can be predicted , but the commercial success can never be predicted at all . The highbrows at least have a literary fashion. The public doesn’t have that either.
The novel cannot be considered purely American, it reads well, as they say, “on both sides of the Atlantic” and contains references, for example, to the song about Roland, Lord Byron and to the writer’s fate of Proust and Stevenson.
By the way, one character in this novel is compared to Kaspar Hauser (the Nuremberg child). Indeed, in the middle of the twentieth century, mankind still remembered Kaspar Hauser, this was an important metaphor for him. Now there is such a surplus of information in the world that against this background the history and image of Kaspar Hauser have long lost their special expressiveness.
Ellen McCloy crowns her novel, like an icing on a cake,with a detective solution, hidden not somewhere, but … in a literary quote from an English classic, known not to uneducated young generation, but only to educated people of that time. And the motive for the crime arises due not to anything, but to the peculiarities of the literary process – oh, this is an extremely sophisticated literary plan of the author, in my opinion!
And although one of the characters is grumbling about writing detective stories:
“Anyone can write a detective story. It’s the same job as a locksmith or a carpenter. I’ve always believed that detective authors should be paid a salary, not a fee.”
nevertheless, I will note that “We do need such detectives” 🙂 (It’s paraphrase of Russian catch phrase arised from hockey commentator Nicolay Ozerov’s “We don’t need such kind of hockey!” in 1972.)
While I am making the final changes to the look and feel of my personal site, you can in the meantime read some reviews of my virtual friends all over the world about my book.
Carlos, 36, New York, USA
You have a voice. It’s poetic, ambitious and eloquent. I feel that you introduce events and immediately add many layers of commentary on everything instead of letting these moments flow more freely. I don’t think your reasoning is random but rather very self aware, like you constantly analyze yourself. It’s an intense stream of consciousness retrospect ive. I feel that hat you have created a hyper-literary account of your life, it’s a tour de force narrative.
James, 44, LA, USA
I like the detail in your story. It has a very historical feel to it in and time and place that doesn’t exist anymore. The way she views the exploration of her sexuality is really interesting. I like it too because it isn’t ‘cynical’ but more just speaking about what happened and how you felt and your observations. There was there some romantic observations and also some more cinical like observations.
Joni 30, Tampere, Finland
It seems very intellectual and very freshly written. Like a breath of fresh air. The writing is very thoughtful, it has new ideas and interesting observations. You use words delicately and deliciously. This is very beautiful text, with rare, delicate words. This work reminded me of the woman’s need for accepting men and accepting themselves, as well as the fight against acceptance of men and the fight against the acceptance of themselves, which is a common theme in the lives of many women. Is woman a puzzle or someone who wants to be understood? Or both. Women can be “The Others” for men as well. The great unknown in some way. They can be inexplicable creatures with broader perceptions, in some cases.
Warren, 34, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
I liked reading, you are a deep minded and fascinating person. Your childhood was different to mine, but so interesting. From reading your pages, I discovered about life in Russia, and also more about sexuality. I enjoyed it. There was humor and the style was good. I enjoyed your style of writing. I think that longer and more descriptive sentences are better to aid the reader’s understanding.
tichh, 59, Derby, UK
I admire you for the way you write you have an amazing talent I have never read such good work as you write
you are turning me into a reader 🙂
you are amazing writer
all are perfect in my eyes – the structure and content
Bill, 58, Wyoming, USA
You have created a “page turner” as we say. Just like when we read a novel that we can not put down. It has some very excellent descriptions of your thoughts and the words make it even more enticing. I am not shocked at all because it is deliciously honest.
Hocem, 31, Kasserine, Tunisia
I enjoyed reading. I read some intriguing passages, I was curious to read some “glimpses about the author”. Author “s life experience about emotional relationships is very diverse. The author mixes many little details to have more writing space and to interpret them in more independant way. I admire her craving to explain her opinion in a deep sincere way.
Bejn, 32 Belgrade, Serbia
You have a decent writing style. Details about childhood are nice actually, Stories from “Soviet” childhoods are always interesting to me. As for the story reviews, I like that it describes life just as it is, not romanticizing it.
A year ago I watched Mulholland Drive for the second time. It turned out that in recent years my perception of the film has changed a lot since I have become more cynical and have already seen a lot. As for the plot content of the film, I think the director came up with the idea of showing the story of the trip to the address on Mulholland Drive 2 times, and the second time the girl in this scheme is already different, and many details become clear from the final conversation at the table. Well! This is a great idea! But to tell the truth, this plot action would take on the screen not 2 and a half hours, but only about 40 minutes of the film. Therefore, all the rest of the time Lynch is occupied with some kind of outsiders, funny broken plot lines leading to nowhere. Lynch loves to laugh, and deliberately places mysterious points during the film so that the viewer can rack his brain happily over it.
That is why this time I watched this film as a comedy, or rather, as a set of funny sketches. Judge for yourself: then we see in the frame a certain so-called mysterious chief sitting in the chair, to whom the situation is reported and who is listening. Then our attention is switched to negotiations, and then to the quarrels of the director in black glasses with the Italian mafia. Or one more funny sketch – the husband finds his wife’s lover at home, or the champion of “incomprehensibility” – the so-called scene in a cafe. Or those strange pop numbers on the stage of the Silesio Theater, crowned with a blue cube!
Oh, earlier I could really think seriously: but what means this kind of blue cube with no less blue key? :))
The picture is quite stylish, one might even say – “very stylish”. All in all, I really loved the impressive music and the panorama of the city’s night lights in the background. And a very exciting feeling when a car is driving to such music in the dark.
Goodreads question:Where did you get the idea for your most recent book? Rebecca Popova:Oh, I can really shed additional light on the origins of my last book. ) The idea of writing came to me last May while reading the famous saga of Marcel Proust “À la recherche du temps perdu”. I have to admit I am a devoted fan of this french author.
So, thinking about how Proust builds his story, I was surprised to find that in his text Proust was giving not too much plot development in terms of the amount of “action”. But at the same time a certain impressionable young man with a fine mental organization, chosen as the main character of the novel, perceives some ordinary and unremarkable things that happens to him, in a very sharp manner. Therefore, on the pages of the novel, we come across literally “kilograms” of the author’s reasoning on general themes and an analysis of the elusive feelings of this young man. And all this is held together solely based on the unique recognizable author’s style and on this very analysis of the smallest sensations, plus on not too banal – and sometimes, on the contrary, even on a little paradoxical – reasoning on general topics. And at that very moment I suddenly thought: but I can also reason a lot, and maybe even no less original than Proust, in my very immodest opinion. And in my reasoning I stand on the position of a person familiar with the much later and more sophisticated fruits of intellectual achievements of human civilization than Marcel Proust could use in his reasoning .. And the events of my youth were certainly much more exciting than these that our respected Marcel had.) And it was that very moment when I started writing my book “I Am Becoming a Woman”)
My story “I Become a Woman” is a true story from real life.
But let’s think, what’s different about memoir literature.
As I wrote earlier, the ideological inspirer of my cycle of stories “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh” is Marcel Proust. In his novel “In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower,” Proust touches on the comparison of fictional reality and reality extracted from memory. Proust discusses the memoirs of Saint-Simon and writes about the author’s desire to insert into his text real words and characters, which in the living integrity of the work can then turn out to be a dead weight, its weakness. When Saint-Simon creates the characteristics of his contemporaries, he does it amazingly, but when he quotes the “lovely”, in his opinion, expressions of various smart people, they sometimes seem mediocre or unclear … So, according to Proust, the author’s desire not to commit falsehood in the describing of real events imposes certain restrictions on any memoir narration.
I can confirm that this is undoubtedly so, and I really experienced limitations when coming up with the text of my story. Indeed, in the case of some completely fictional story, the author constructs events and heroes, feeling free to fill in his text with any details to create a more impressive fictional world, and in this case the author’s fantasy has no restrictions other than his own literary taste. A fictional hero is usually a collective image, that is, it combines the features of several real or fictional characters. Whereas, in documentary narration, the main task of the author is not to invent the most convincing and impressive details, but to convey real details as accurately as possible, without sinning against the truth. That is, for the author of memoirs, the events of his own life are so significant that he seems to be afraid to distort them at least in some way.
By the way, sometimes real life events are so intense that they can even overshadow the author’s personality. This is what the famous Russian philologist Dmitry Likhachev writes about one of the most famous autobiographies in the history of world literature – “Confessions” by Jean Jacques Rousseau: in a fit of desperate frankness and in an effort to diligently convey the true facts of his biography, Rousseau seemed to have overshadowed his true personality, his real mental and spiritual life with an external outline of events, and thus in his autobiography the great thinker was turned into a kind of some fictional character. Of course, when it comes to such a great thinker and public figure like Rousseau, such a “replacement” of the hero can be disappointing for the reader who expects to see some truly magnificent image in the autobiography of his idol. But in the case of my own memoirs, curious events of the life can be interesting in themselves. 🙂 So, all of the above does not mean at all that my story is poor in events. And moreover – in terms of personal reflection on the events that have taken place, the heroine’s emotions are really extra genuine.
One of my beta readers – an Englishman – asked me in surprise: did all this really happen to me in reality?
Another beta reader of mine, an American – who, by the way, is a writer himself – said that he was most interested exactly in stories from real life.
This is why, as rhey say, sometimes life is more convoluted than any fiction.
So… Do not forget to download my novel “I Become a Woman” on free days from 28 to 29 November.
Probably all of us have ever heard the phrase that in the same book, each reader finds something of his own. In fact, everyone reads his own individual book, because something in the text leaves him completely indifferent or even irritates him, while other fragments of the text evoke a strong emotional response or an influx of associations and memories in his soul. That is why the reviews about the same book are often so contradictory – readers simply have different backgrounds – both in life and in reading, different life experiences and different taste preferences … Even two brothers, two inseparable friends, or the husband and his wife who have lived together for a long time may have diametrically opposite tastes in some matters, because the inner world of each person is a kind of his whole universe, somewhat similar to the virtual world of a computer game, and not each of us is a filmmaker to embody his ever-changing phobias and fatazia in such a form that he can show it to other people. (haha, and besides, by the way, some of us are writers who are also capable of embodying phobias and fantasies of their inner world, but in this case they do it not using the camera, like a film director, but with a help of great and mighty art of words).
Of course, several of my acquaintances – my beta readers – have already read the book and told me about their feelings from reading. And I was surprised at so various topics for discussion that we had with them after reading. In fact, the text of my book turned out to be something like a litmus test for the inner world of my friends.
One guy – a writer – read the text from a purely professional point of view, but at the same time he was extremely sensitive to all sexual aspects as a man. Having his own Jack Kerouac stage in life driving around America in a cheap car, he was more impressed by the second part of the Cycle – “Serious Relations”, at the beginning of which some rampant alcoholic revelry is described. (By the way, let me remind you that “I Am Becoming a Woman” is the first part of the whole series “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh”, and the next part – “Serious Relations”, which I am planning to release approximately in three months – there are some much more frank details.) Another writing guy (to myself, I call his literary tastes typically mid-American) treated the text as a classic romance with personages and characters. At the same time, I think he remained rather indifferent to my style and did not notice my irony, while I myself consider the literary style to be my main merit (“A person is a style,” said one extravagant Russian political guy-writer, just after communicating with whom I began writing a lot, which is described in the fourth part of my epic entitled “Belle Epoque or the Age of the Live Journal”). The third man found the text as to the author’s slightly ironic view of the events of his past life (and, I confess, this his perception is something similar to my own). People closest to me in spirit paid attention not only to the sexual component, but also to all numerous details that occupied my thoughts and gave an idea of life in the USSR and in Russia at that time. People far away from me in their spirit demanded more eroticism in the text and less descriptions of specific places in Moscow, but at the same time they were doing justice to my style…
To be honest, I still do not have many responses from women, although I am sure that it would be especially interesting for them.
Today, August 17, 23.59 PDT is the last day of the free downloading of the book. Immerse yourself in the Russia perestroika era life and compare the heroine’s first sexual experience with your own experience!