“The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh” heroine has similarities to Adèle from Leïla Slimani’s novel

I just read the book Adèle by Leïla Slimani. In this book we see a very curious and valuable study of the nature of female sexuality.
In some ways, Adele resembles the heroine of my autobiographical cycle “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh”.

So here’s what we read about Adèle in Leïla Slimani’s novel:
“She was not hungry for the flesh of men, but for the situation itself.”
The author of the book describes that Adèle, in the measured routine of everyday life, tried to feel herself in the center of men’s attention, to feel being desired, and then so that this situation would receive some kind of intimate continuation, and this her longing was especially aggravated at parties. In sex, she liked his intimacy, his hidden side.
I am writing in Serious Relationship:
“In sex I loved the very atmosphere of intimacy most of all, and it was unique with each partner”.

Communication, parties are boring if Adele does not feel being desired. She immediately notices all the signals from men in her direction. Watches how long men resist her advances.
At the beginning of Serious Relationship, I detail how my heroine methodically and patiently seduces her boyfriend’s friend.

The second part of the cycle “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh”. – Serious Relationship – starts like this:
“What is a man? Firstly, this is his eyes, when he staring at you more or less intensely, furtively or openly, with more or less pleasure. Then this is his penis inside you, functioning better or worse, and these more or less virtuoso movements of the penis cause in his biological master more or less self-reflection on everything that happens”.

In her novel, Leïla Slimani gives a more detailed formulation of my thought:
“Men, making love, look at their penis. They lean on their hands, tilt their heads and watch as their rod penetrates the woman. They want to make sure it works. For a few seconds they evaluate the movements and they probably enjoy this mechanic, so simple and so effective”.

Just like the heroine of the novel Adèle, my heroine was afraid of loneliness.
As for Adele , “she was afraid not of men, but of loneliness. She was afraid not to be under anyone’s gaze, to be an unknown, nameless, pawn in the crowd. “
This is what is told about my heroine in “I am Becoming a Woman “:
“Since sitting at home was mostly boring and lonely, I did not refuse any interesting pastimes that fate offered to me. After drinking a little for courage, I used to go off on a date with some new gentleman, whom I intended to charm”.

Here’s what Leïla Slimani writes about forced women integrating into the social behavior model:
“Adèle had a child for the same reason she got married. To belong to the world and protect herself from any difference from others. “
I write about the same in “Serious Relationship”:
“Gradually, I really came to consider myself as an old maid … I started avoiding people who might ask me if I had already married or not … From now on, a girl of my age needed to get married in order just to increase self-esteem”.

Rebecca Popova collage

However, Adèle is not too eager to lead just a boring family life.
“She will have to find something that transcends the prosaicity that strangled her in childhood, forcing her to say that there is no punishment more terrible than family life”.

This is what I write in Serious Relationship:
“Due to the pesky duty of cooking that was imposed on a woman in our society, I never wanted to get married, and besides, I was terrified by the perspective of washing diapers and hearing baby’s crying”.

So do not forget to download my book- my own exploration of female sexuality:

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Space of Paris in the tradition of Cortazar

Dans le café de la jeunesse perdue

Cafe of Lost Youth by Patrick Modiano

Even the very beginning of this text reminded me that elusively attractive atmosphere of Paris and Parisian cafes, which is imbued with the texts of Julio Cortazar – for example, his story “El otro cielo.” or the beginning of the novel “Rayuela”.

And the idea of ​​writing down the names of all visitors to all Parisian cafes in a notebook (the idea of ​​”intersection points”) or the idea that all ​​missing people have “settled” in furnished rooms where they are not asked for documents, is very similar to the idea of ​​counting the number of people entering and leaving the metro in “Records in a notebook “and games with” the Mondrian tree of the Paris Metro” from the story”A manuscript found in a pocket” by Cortazar.

This short novel is about finding oneself in space (and not just in space, but exactly in the space of Paris) and in time – in one’s memoirs, many of which relate, again, to movement along the streets of Paris.

It is very important for the heroes which zone of Paris they live in, and one guy even creates a theory of “neutral zones“. Wandering around the city, on some streets they are surprised to find themselves, as if not in the capital, but in the provinces, and, fantasizing, they outline for themselves houses where they would like to live and which they, it would seem, have just left in a kind of their parallel life …

The girl carries with her a book with the eloquent title “The Lost Horizon” and seeks to get out of the narrow framework in which her life is enclosed. When life has a perspective – for example, when you want to travel “in the heart of summer – where time has stopped and the hands of the clock always show noon“, then “the horizon line stretches far ahead, there, in infinity.”
In an effort to escape from anxiety and a feeling of emptiness, she always looks for a new life, new acquaintances, “refuge”, and at times she briefly manages to find a “heady feeling of lightness“, and she is most happy in the very moment when she flees from somewhere.
It all began with a movie theater stimulating the unattainable dreams with the expressive name “Mexico City”, after the sessions in which
“Colored neon signs were just like in the movies: emerald green, dark blue, sandy yellow … The colors were too bright, and it seemed that you were on the other side of the screen, or in a dream …”

The guy who is her friend is obessed by the thought of a kind of the Eternal Return – “There are days when you don’t immediately remember what year you live in … Everything repeats itself. Identical days, nights, places, meetings ”, but after years he bitterly realizes:
“Now here you will not meet the ghosts of the past – even they died … In this world … I more and more seemed to myself to be an accidental survivor.”

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We’re just devoted readers of Black book

 I give you hand  and call  to join the journey
To go along the searching path together.

This story will begin one charming morning
When the whole world will be the same as ever
And any resident of Istanbul could lead
His wife in evening to the theatre called "Konak" -
In ancient city where the West meets East
And where the sun hangs over sea like orange.


These narrow winding streets may match Damascus
Where you were wandering to find your love for years.
Do not forget to wear your old black glasses,
You may believe you are bashaw or someone else.


You'll lose your way in maze of city streets
Where you may feel some presence of, it seems,
A person seeking you and soon you'll meet...
No, it's just people rush for their things.


And if perspective is at least a little changed
In this case you will see no symbols any more.


Remembering Ruya means remembering games
Of your idyllic past in the ancestral home.
The man is always woven from his past
And wandering around his life museum, enchanted,
Observes exhibits in a layer of silky dust.


Until you realize your wife has dumped you
You'll joyfully discover secret hints
Of hidden world where Ruya still exists,
And only after this you'll start through tears
To look at her abandoned empty seat.


A loving man sees everywhere reminders
Of his sweetheart with whom he's separated.
She's gone to man from her imaginary garden. . She'll stop to dream of someone when she's grey-haired.


Yet her indifference's deep as silent pit
Which you may see from window of old flat.
And scary thoughts that you want to get rid,
All memories that you need to forget,
Her stuff that's hard for you to look at still -


All things you burry deep into subconscious -
You need to put in former pit that's filled
With earth and turned in gap between the houses.


Then everything will happen like a dream
And as surreal as forgotten book
With you or with a man you'd like to seem
Whose photos and news clippings you've just looked.


You'll look at scary shots in video reports
Which seem you've already seen somewhere.
The clock in house'll be forever stopped.
Life'll be divided in "before" and "after".


Let's leave Galip with his unending woe
Imagining the map of streets with souks
And hearing the city sounds through window -
We're just devoted readers of "Black book".


Galip felt love for Ruyya first while reading
The ancient book together with his friend -
In our thrilling trip sometimes we snuggled in
Each other, getting closer in the end.


The heroes disappear, leaving stage.
We hold back our tears, feeling sad.
And now we may close the last page,
Still thinking of the mystery just read.

I often see The Black Book is not so highly appreciated – perhaps this is due to some unevenness or blurred text, but, in any case, there is a certain captured drive in it.

From the very first line of his novel, Pamuk sets a certain tone for the entire narrative, immersing the reader into the unique Universe of this book – Universe that is at the same time touching and family one and Universe that is full of voluminous meanings. Into the Universe of the life of Galip, who is in love with his wife, which is always eluding him. And into the Universe of the history of Turkey of the 20th century, geographically located between the West and the East and trying to digest these diverse influences in its everyday life at the end of the 20th century, and here it is no wonder to stumble upon a description of the flawed dystopian reality of Soviet reality which is so familiar to us.

Pamuk seeks to add depth to the novel, prompting the reader to identify his characters with archetypes from Eastern culture. The theme of searching and wandering through the maze of streets is layered in the novel on the Eastern tradition of storytelling, sometimes taking a slightly more modern form – reading newspaper articles on a variety of topics, from Trying to be yourself to Rulers playing in dressing-up. And the path of the hero’s quest will miraculously repeat the path of the “cult” author of the Poem on the Hidden Meaning.
And therefore, leafing through this book, one can feel both the diverse breath of the ancient city and the echo of bygone centuries, as well as the despair and insights of one particular person.

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Please do not beat the pianist!

At the beginning of the 2000s, the novel “The Pianist” thundered thanks to the film of the same name by Michael Haneke (it was released almost simultaneously with the film “The Pianist” by Roman Polanski), and when retelling its plot, of course, the viewers paid attention primarily to the most scandalous moments.
In those days, the following conversation was quite likely:
– Have you watched “The Pianist”?
– “The Pianist”? Do you mean “The Pianist” by Roman Polanski?
– No, “The Pianist” by Michael Haneke.
– Hm … It seems not.
– Can you imagine, there is the main character … well … she is a masochist and she likes to hurt herself with a razor THERE …

But let’s return o the book. The author not only skillfully describes reality – no, she also analyzes and systematizes it, and does it as bitingly and harshly as possible, using complex phrases that are deep in meaning and structure. The author not only describes reality skillfully – no, she also analyzes and systematizes it, and does it as bitingly and harshly as possible, using complex phrases that are deep in meaning and structure. This innovative prose, refined on the verge of paradox and sophisticated on the verge of understanding, is rethinking sarcastically the very stereotypes of usual human behavior.

Sometimes, somewhere at the very top, on the final round of the next metaphor, there are such bold analogies that seem not entirely justified and obvious – somewhat reminiscent, if you use the appropriate musical terminology, false notes, which causes something like annoyance in the reader’s soul – however, perhaps these comparisons, on the contrary, are as fresh as possible and give the narrative the necessary volume, and therefore it is better not to think about their irrelevance, but, on the contrary, to admire their originality.

SHE is a tired dolphin, indifferently preparing for the final trick, wearily fixing with her gaze a funny multi-colored ball, which the animal picks up on its nose with its usual movement.

The world of children’s constructors is opening up before her. .. She thinks hard and slowly. A dead lead weight hangs on it. Brake shoe. She is a weapon turned against herself that will never fire. She is a vice made of tin.

Erica soars on the wings of art in the high air corridors, rising almost to the ether .. Her mother looks around in search of a brake rope for her daughter, for this kite. Just don’t let it go, just don’t let go of the rope!

A cold, icy wind blew out, and she runs into the ice fields, dressed in a short dress, like a skater, white boots with skates on her feet … The endless blue ribbon of her skirt begins to sway, carefully fold into frills.

Jelinek’s reasoning moves along a trajectory that is not always easily traceable, temperamentally illustrated by impressive metaphors and accompanied by unexpectedly bold pictures written out with all the details – here we see visitors to an ice cream parlor or families with children relaxing in the Prater Park, here on the ice a skater in a skirt with a blue edging is performing, and here is an almost ready-made guidance to the arrangement of school washrooms …
Over time, the number of such deviations from any linear narrative so much exceeds the critical mass that, in general, one involuntarily has to recall those times of his adolescence, when with greedy eyes you look out for “racy” details in the text, by default considering everything else as something terribly boring and insipid.

As for the “racy” details, they are very specific here – it is not for nothing that this novel attracted the attention of Michael Haneke himself. And, besides, they are somewhat instructive.

It seems that Erica is the obedient daughter of her mother, after the next chamber concert dreaming to quickly return to her sweet nest and sit in her favorite chair in front of the TV …
“There is the only one source of light lit in Erika’s head, from which it is as bright as day all around and which illuminates the sign with the inscription ‘Exit’. A comfortable chair in front of the TV pulls his hands towards her, the soft callsigns of the news program are heard, the announcer busily straightens his tie. On the side table there are vases with delicacies that amaze the imagination with their abundance and colors, and both ladies, alternately or simultaneously, resort to their services.”

But no! It turns out that over and over again something persistently forces Erica to rush around the city like a meteor in the most strange places such as peep shows, showing films of light porn or remote forest clearings for copulating couples in an attempt to see something that remained incomprehensible to her in the very core of the female body and in the mechanism of the interlacing of two bodies …
“A man, Erika thinks, should often have the feeling that a woman is hiding something important from him in this jumble of internal organs. It is it, the most intimate, that spurs Erika, pushes to consider everything new, deeper, more forbidden. “
Probably, the writer herself is interested in looking for such emotional zest against the background of measured philistine life in a respectable prosperous European city – the capital of music.

And when a man appeared in the life of the main character Erica, she thought about how she could use “his services” in the most effective way. Erica had already managed to study herself a little in this matter, and her imagination generated some fantasies in which her desire to obey to the partner and her interest in experiencing pain would be realized. The heroine, not too experienced in love relationships, did not come up with anything better than to tell her potential lover naively and straightforward about her fantasies …

After all, Erica is generally a rather uncompromising woman – this is the way, in a moment of emotional experience, she plays her instrument, which her fingers have long become a continuation of:
“She gathers with all her strength, strains her wings and rushes forward, right at the keys, which are rushing swiftly towards her, like the earth flies towards a plane in disaster.”

…You may wonder – and what about him, her lover?
Will there be a happy end and a “kiss on the diaphragm” in this story? 

Let us feel the excitement of the heart when reading the denouement of this uncommon love story.

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“Upon a fiction, heavy tears I’ll weep”

Sometimes it happens so that a book comes to you at such a moment that it extremely resonates with the strings of your own soul, and then every barely noticeable hint in the text evokes a storm of emotions and tears are about to splash … It is exactly like “Upon a fiction, heavy tears I’ll weep “, as Alexander Puhkin said in his poem “Elegy” (1830)…

Reading this largely autobiographical novel by Cronin, I involuntarily recalled many other works of world literature about childhood. In general, it is always especially interesting for me to read the diary notes of a generation, refracted in the writer’s mind, telling about the youth that took place at the beginning of the 20th century … For example, the study by two friends of the fauna of the Wynton Hills, described by Cronin, reminded me of Marcel Pagnol’s childhood trilogy.

In his presentation of events, the author tries to be objective and to place accents accurately, at the same time striving both with a grain of irony to imagine how the hero looked from the outside, and not to miss the whole stream of thoughts and emotions that rushed through his head, while he was answering to his interlocutors with his meager restrained remarks.

Perhaps I will make this review rather personal since I’d like to describe my amazement when I was captured by emotions about the episode in which the “grandmother”, with the best intentions, sews a school suit for Robert instead of the worn one, using the fabric of the green lining of her skirt, and all the troubles that awaited the main character after that. And when a caring “mother” suggested that he put on his aunt’s women’s sharp-toed shoes in case his own ones would suddenly break off at the moment of perhaps the most responsible exam in his life …
“The poor are not given the right to choose, my boy,” says his “dad” with some hypocrisy, the main feature of which was stinginess … In this book, stinginess is perhaps brought to the point of absurdity, but perhaps this is somehow familiar to many readers in some form, and this is especially true of the older generation in our country – Russia, accustomed to try to save extremely – even if sometimes they could well afford something more.

There is, of course, a national flavor in the book, and it is described especially vividly due to the fact that the main character was born in Dublin into a Catholic family, but then he was forced to live in a small Scottish town inhabited by Protestants – by the way, through the prism of the perception of the little hero we we learn a lot about the way of life and manners of this very town.

Summing up, I will note that we have an example of such kind of book, in which, perhaps, there are no such action events as in a thriller or in an action movie, but, nevertheless, thanks to the correctly placed accents and interesting cognitive aspect of the text, the level of the reader’s response to which far surpasses many books of sharp genres. 

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Lost in … Or Robinson Crusoe in Search of Lost Time

“There will always be someone whose view is wide enough,” it is said mysteriously at the very beginning of the novel -really, it is not yet too clear what this is about – oh, this will become obvious only closer to the end of the novel.

And after that, paragraph by paragraph, the picture unfolds before the reader of a hero’s acquisition of his memories, for the time being, buried somewhere. Acquisitions bit by bit, with the help of some stable verbal turnovers being recalled, with the help of not too recognized yet person images who for the time being do not have their own name that are poping up from memory.

He identifies Russia by seeing himself in the church, and outside the window – a snow-covered country. And I think this very combination is extremely “Russian”!

“The church is a great joy, especially in childhood. Small, that means, I hold onto my mother’s skirt … And so I soar in church, float over the priest, waving a censer, through the fragrant smoke. Above the choir – through his chants (slow waves of the choir and his own grimaces on high notes). Above the old woman candlestick and the people who filled the temple (flowing around the pillars), along the windows, behind which there is a snowy country. Russia?”

Then he finds his memories even more accurately in space – this time with the help of recalling of the images of spire and the river.
I can’t help but quote this metaphorical description of the tramway movement:

“I am recalling. Tram rails on the frozen river. An electric tram making its way from one bank to another, benches along the windows … The car driver is concentrated, he is the last one to lose hope. The conductor is also strong in spirit, but does not forget to cheer himself up with sips from a flask, for the frost and moonlit landscape will discourage anyone, the conductor must remain vigorous. Sells tickets for five kopecks, rips them off with icy fingers. There are ten fathoms of water under it, a blizzard on the sides, but its fragile ark, a yellow light on the ice, strives to its goal – a huge spire lost in the darkness. I recognize this spire and this river. Now I know what city I lived in. “

And gradually this one who is recalling finds himself, feels himself, – first in space, then – in time. And most importantly – bit by bit he restores pictures of idyllic Russian life, forever lost and preserved only in the memories of those who, like him, are still alive, or … captured on paper by those who did manage to write it down.

“I try to approach the past in different ways in order to understand what it is. Something separate from me, or something I still live through?”

Honestly, keeping in mind the title of the novel – Aviator, I was afraid that it would turn out to be a text about the everyday life of some outstanding plane designer like Sergei Korolev, but my fears were not confirmed.
In general, when the reader tries to understand why the book is named in one way or another, then an amazing kind of scanning of the text occurs in his mind …
Of course, the theme of the aviator (really fashionable and sometimes tragic occupation for the 1910s) echoes the poem of the same name by Alexander Blok (1912).
But, closer to the end of the text, we may find a quote about a wide view of the picture seen, shedding light on the mysterious phrase about the width of the view at the very beginning and, besides, on the title of the novel:

“Once in Siverskaya I saw an airplane take off from a poorly mowed field. Taking a take off, the aviator went around potholes, jumped on bumps and suddenly – oh, joy! – was in the air. Looking at the car convulsively moving across the field, no one was flying, frankly speaking, he did not expect. And the aviator took off. And there was no more hummocky field, no laughing spectators for him – the sky appeared in the clouds scattering over it and the motley, like patchwork, earth under the wings. “

The hero of the novel identifies himself with Robinson Crusoe, the hero of his beloved childhood novel … By the way, the very book that his grandmother read to him when he was ill, listening to it through the sur of his fever, it is difficult to imagine something more idyllic.
That’s right: he is now Robinson Crusoe, because he was left completely alone, he was cut off from the world of which he was a part, and he was deprived of the opportunity to build a boat to get on it to the “Big Earth”.

So, all that remains is to remember and try to write down as many of your memories as possible.

“There is no point in writing about any major events … Descriptions should concern something that does not take place in history, but remains in the heart forever.”

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And love, and happiness, and life

The ways in which the reader sometimes finds his book are truly amazing.
I was trying to remember the name of a completely different novel – actually, I intended to find The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva, but I forgot the author’s last name, and the search on the keywords “book” – “Venice” – “killer” unespectedly gave me “Death in Venice” by Thomas Mann, which I preferred to read instead of the book I was looking for initially.

Frankly I did not quite manage to grasp my emotions of Thomas Mann’s prose. On the one hand, everything he writes seems to be quite obvious, well-known and often met. But he expresses it so confidently and skillfully, adding to this a certain amount of quite modern details – well, in fact, what means the last hundred years on the scale of human self-knowledge! – and arranges his thoughts and extremely precise descriptions in such a way that the resulting whole text canvas looks quite convincing to the taste of the sophisticated modern reader.

Thomas Mann, exquisitely as a true master of the word, examined the mechanism of a love feeling, when some force makes a lover want to be near and strive to please the person he loved.  A writer by the name of Aschenbach is confronted with love in its pure undiluted form and in amazement tries to comprehend it. The object of love is a surprisingly handsome boy who does not possess intellectual dignity, at the same time the subject of love – Ashenbach – is an educated refined person prone to introspection.
In this state of love intoxication, Ashenbach becomes especially susceptible to arts that would have seemed vulgar to him before.

Beauty wounds Ashenbach like the arrows of Cupid. And then, unconsciously dreaming of possible reciprocity, Ashenbach is forced to think how outwardly attractive he himself looks to other people. He goes up to his hotel room and looks in the mirror … Indeed, people appreciated and extolled him as a master in literature, but will that be convincing in the boy’s eyes? Since the face that looks at him from the mirror is terrifying from an aesthetic point of view.

While polemicizing to himself with Plato’s theses, Ashenbach admits with bitterness and amazement that poets are lustful in their desire to possess beauty.
Under the influence of love intoxication, the hero’s value system changes. What seemed important before – comfort, the desire to write – suddenly became secondary.
The very scheme of love in the novel is reduced to the extraordinary power of beauty and naturalness over the intellect. As a result, the force of attraction of the intellect to beauty turns out to be destructive, and the intellect literally sacrifices itself for the sake of beauty .

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How to stop worrying and get your husband’s attention

After rereading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn a second time, I wondered: what is this book about?

What can we find in this text, other than a gripping plot, written with the expectation that it will be the basis of the hit thriller movie script?
Perhaps this is just a very well-written thriller – with the invariable principle of any thriller that everything turns out to be not at all what it seems at first – in which, at the same time, the author paid close attention to the psychological reliability of the characters?
Or, on the contrary, can this novel be viewed as a general discussion of married life, which is just “masquerading” as a thriller?

I really like the first part of this story, while the ending evokes feelings of displeasure interspersed with a sense of horror and seems unnatural.
And, in general, I approximately understand why this is happening.

We read the first half of the book about the transformation of a married couple’s relationship during five years of marriage, when a husband and wife go from mutual delight to painful misunderstanding. The author uses a very effective plot composition technique, in which the same events of life together are alternately described firstly from the point of view of a man, and then from the point of view of a woman – I remember that I really liked a similar method many years ago in the film “Françoise ou La vie conjugale” (1964).

This story of a gradual change in the relationship between spouses might seem quite typical for many couples … although later it turns out that it is faked a little.
Sometimes it seems that the author is literally ironically making fun of typical advice for spouses, such as seeking compromises – “never go to bed without making peace”.

The two main characters in the novel are, of course, the husband and the wife mentioned above.
The husband, with pleasure and a little narcissistic, plunges into the abyss of introspection, recalling the details of his own biography and typical traits of his character and, in general, appears in this hypostasis as a rather self-critical fellow. However, by all accounts, he is devilishly charming, as well as witty, erudite and even able to behave quite caringly towards his other half for a while.

As for his wife, in the beginning of the text she looks just beautiful, obedient and being in love one, accepting all the shortcomings of her husband and as if dissolved in her bright feeling of love and forgiveness – that is, in fact, she embodies the ideal of a wife according to all the textbooks of family life.
However, right in the middle of the book, the wife turns out to be not at all as simple as it seems. For example, it turns out that it was she who, at the very beginning of their relationship, stimulated her future husband to “become a superman” and to lead an intellectual life at the limit of his mental capabilities, and it is eaxactly as a result of this process he fell in love with her.
Subsequently, the wife turns out to be a grotesque character, in which the features are unusually hypertrophied, but this is what makes the novel so interesting to read … and at the same time so implausible – in other words, some “surrealistic” events begin.

In the second half of the novel the reader is forcibly immersed in such purely american themes as reflections on the power of public opinion, lawyers, paparazzi, cops, popular TV shows, phrases from movies, talk show hosts…
In general, I can’t say this text give rise to any interesting literary thoughts and associations in me, although – to be honest – reading was extremely interesting.

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Door to the Garden of Eden in the gray city

I met books in my life that I often re-read as a teenager and about which then I remembered all my life with a warm feeling, amazed at my own emotions while reading. In fairness, I will note that the available choice for reading was by no means as rich as it is today, but still we saw on the bookshelves the spines with titles that had passed, in the opinion of competent persons, all kinds of censorship, both in terms of quality and for ideological reasons. For example, the “door in the wall” from the story of the same name by H.G. Wells became a completely archetypal concept for me for the rest of my life – I must say that in childhood and adolescence, the bright image of a door entwined with wild grapes and capable of hiding in the space of an ordinary-looking gray city, invariably excited my imagination.
Just now I re-read this short story, and my expectations were not disappointed, and this time – I was touched again – however, this time it was more from my own memories, not allowing the ice of stinging criticism to penetrate my soul.
This time, the described Garden of Eden unexpectedly reminded me of a visit to Rodini Park in the city of Rhodes … In general, this entire subconscious memory mechanism is truly amazing, because, to be honest, I cannot say that I remember visiting this park so frequently or that it was the most interesting park in my life … Apparently, a certain majesty and serenity, which gives this place its venerable age – really, the park erased at the end of the 5th century BC, and thete are pointers to the mausoleum of Ptolemy, – has affected. Indeed, centuries pass ater centuries, and the park still stands in the same place, indifferent to the passage of time and even more so to people with their vain concerns.

I have found that this story, with its thought of the amazing places lost in rather familiar space so close to us, has influenced my entire life.
The Wallace’s school games with an attempt first to get lost and then find the right path reminded me of our childhood fun with space, which my girl friends and Iused to play in the vicinity of our house, about which I write in my book “I Am Becoming a Woman”


“We had such fun with Tanya: being impressed by the intricacies of the streets, we used to hit the road with the intention of getting lost. We were satisfied when, after having strayed among the streets and having time to be seriously scared, we suddenly found our house on the wrong side from where we left.”

The way his household greeted unkindly Wallace after his returning home echoes this fragment of “I am becoming a woman”.


“Then it turned out that they were looking for us at this time – we had gone as far away from home as never before … But this was a necessary feature of any more or less interesting activity: a reckoning in the form of censure from parents was to come inevitably.”

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A writer, a critic, an agent and a publisher – complicated relations

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.)

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