Book 1 from “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh” cycle
In our youth the idea of the future is imbued with an alluring foreboding of love, since all songs and books say love is something special, and the body is excited by the anticipation of something sweet and forbidden. Love longing is precisely what allows sometimes complete strangers to enter your life and sometimes even become a part of your life. What do we expect from love and do we then get exactly what we expect?
In this exquisitely written romantic book the author analyzes the experience of her youth in search of love. She recalls the time when the iron curtain separating Russia from the Western world was destroyed, the country stopped building socializm and tried to adopt the so-called “Western values”.
It is only in our youth that we are so selflessly and completely indulging to fun and are so hopelessly feeling alone, fearfully thinking about our uncertain future.
Serious Relationship is a book that describes with maximum fidelity the experience of searching for the most comfortable partner in entertainment and, possibly, in the future, a partner in more serious relations during the dramatic events in the history of Russia in the early 90s of the last century. The heroine analyzes her momentary desires, her feelings about communicating with men and trying to find the most suitable relationship format for her.
As soon as I met someone, I became curious how soon he would leave me. After that I was feeling alone still being together with him. And finally I was already worried about the fact that we had broken up.
This is the true real life story. These events not only just could have happened at this very time and in this very country, but they indeed have happened in reality, and the author seeks to describe these raw experiences with the greatest objectivity and unvarnished.
This is the second book in The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh series.
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”)
“Why is everyone interested in Ozzy and not in me?” “Well, you know …” “So I’m going to ask Ozzy that question right now. I will call him.” “Will you really call him?” At this moment, to my surprise, I discovered that for a long time already I had been smiling cunningly to my interlocutor, caressing his fingers enthusiastically with my own ones. And also I noticed that a couple of Germans at the next table near the pool were getting up to go away. And now, finally, Ozzy is in front of me. Oddly enough, I was not overwhelmed by any excitement – on the contrary, I became bored since I realized that my eternal striving to find objects of attraction for myself would not lead to good. It turned out he could not make head nor tail of English, that meant I didn’t need him at all. Really, how will I charm him, how will I make an impression on him if I am deprived of my main weapon – the ability to use all shades of words of the Great and Mighty language?
He has a hint of sideburns, and his hair is pulled back in a ponytail. I first saw him rimmed with masculine monkey antics, dressed in a thin white jacket, dotted with stripes of inscriptions, in jeans and sneakers. He is rather temperamental, but his face seems impenetrable precisely because of his Indian structure, and it is namely this contradiction that attracts attention to him. He walks in a wobby sort of way, like a football player, and has some more arsenal of antics so attractive for women … I am looking at the water surface of the pool, and I am alone, that is completely natural for a person. I can allow myself to laugh out loud or to say something to myself.”
This is the very beginning of the fifth part of my “The Unbearable Longing of the Flesh” cycle called “The Souvenir from the Midday Region”. But you may ask why I suddenly remembered about animators in Turkey? Perhaps I am thinking about failed summer tourism in the era of coronavirus? But no, that’s not the point. Simply to make Livejournal allow search robots to index my blog, I had to show some social activity yesterday, so I went to the top posts on Livejournal and among the posts about Navalny’s poisoning and about events in Belarus I found a post about the special love of Russian women for Turkish animators and I wrote my own comment on the topic – something like that: “Oh, there are really such sultry men in Turkey ….When I am looking in their direction I always really fear I will not be able to keep my legs closed.”
A few days ago, in the very end of one of my favorite films “Deja Vu”, I saw Claire, unable to tear her seemingly hypnotized gaze from Doug’s face, nodding in response to his question if they had met earlier – indeed, these things sometimes happen when the time space is warped. And at this very moment I asked myself: where else – in what kind of invented world – did the woman know so much about the man she met while he was convinced that he was meeting her for the first time in his life?
Now I think that, of course, it would be much more logical for me to remember “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and the very moment when Henry meets Claire (Claire again!) for the first time in his life at the Newberry library, but she has known him for a long time since her childhood and knows that sooner or later the day will come when they will meet … But at that moment I remembered about the “Letter from an Unknown Woman” by Stefan Zweig (1922).
What it is like to re-read a book you read in your youth, and to recognize suddenly those passages in the text that once made a special impression on you? … For example, I remember I felt lost in thoughts when reading these lines in my youth: “I understood that you the one, who loves only everything that is carefree and easy, who seeks only play in love …“ “You love only everything light, weightless, fleeting, you are afraid to interfere in someone’s fate …“
“To you, who never knew me,” – this is how the letter from an unfamiliar woman to the subject of all her thoughts begins. And a little further we read: “Fate doomed me to be unrecognized by you all my life, until my death … Even a fleeting memory of me never bothered you. Nothing reminded you of me, not even the most subtle thread of memory has not been stretched from your life to mine. “
What it is like to look at a heartfelt, screaming message about devoted love a hundred years after it was written, of which the last few decades have been decades of a kind of struggle between traditional values and monogamy with something completely opposite?
I will quote here from Davis Robertson’s recently re-read “The World of Wonders” (1975): “If you listen to what people are talking about, or see what they read and what they go to theaters and cinema to, you might think that a real man is certainly amorous and the more women he has, the more masculine he is. The ideal man for them is Don Juan. An unattainable ideal for most men, because if you want to devote your life to lasciviousness, you must have leisure and money, let alone the fact that such a life requires inexhaustible energy, unquenchable lust, and the sexual organ must be as strong as the woodpecker’s beak. An unattainable ideal, but nevertheless thousands of men try themselves in this field, and in old age they sort out their miserable victories, like beads of a rosary. But a one-woman man is a very rare occurrence. He needs spiritual resources and psychological artistry – no match for mediocrity, but he also needs luck, because a one-woman man must find a woman of outstanding qualities. “
I have experienced very conflicting emotions, rereading this text again after so many years! At first I thought about the extreme self-deprecation of the heroine, about the need, so to speak, of the timely intervention of a psychologist… But soon I got involved and started accepting the “rules of the game” in this text. I recalled a similar obsession described in Kuprin’s “Garnet Bracelet” (1910) and the words addressed to the object of worship, putting thus woman on the same level with a kind of shrine: “Hallowed be thy name!“. And finally, as a person who likes to mix the invented life and the reality, I was damn sorry that, during their nights of love, the heroes did not discuss the books writen by the object of love- “the fiction writer R”, which the heroine, she claimed, knew by heart – of course, this not too serious detail would reduce significantly the high degree of self-denial in the novel. Probably every man can only dream of such an enthusiastic secret admirer who says in a letter to her beloved man: “What was my whole life since the very awakening from childhood, if not expectation – expectation of your whim!”