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November/December 2003

Post–Social Realism: Literature from Russia

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Post–social realism, a new crop of Russian writers indulges the ironic, the satirical, and the sardonic--anything but the earnest. Wladimir Kaminer writes of trading in all sorts of new markets in "Animal Transport" and of the demise of an iconic Russian fantasy in "Paris Lost"; Boris Fishman interviews him on writing, reading, music, and being an expat in Berlin. Vyacheslav Pyetsukh, Alexander Pokrovsky, and Alexander Selin all make merry with other icons of Russian-ness not yet defunct. Nina Kossman provides new translations of the essential poet Marina Tsvetaeva, writing intensely of nature and the emotions in a world of revolutionary change, while contemporary poets Gennady Aygi and Larissa Miller aim to chart a new course, looking backward and forward at once.

An Interview with Wladimir Kaminer

Boris Fishman interviewed Wladimir Kaminer September 3, 2003. Boris Fishman: Did you start writing before emigrating to Germany? What did you do in the Soviet Union? Wladimir Kaminer: In

FACE THEREAFTER

whole - with a whisper of ordering of the firmament and as out of the shining face in a time of sorrow - mine - I create

The Geological-Surveillance Institute Part 1

"Well, let's fly . . ." "Why, a geologist of course, no question about it," said the rector with a scowl. "A spy wouldn't throw himself under a train because of a broken heart."

“All this moves and rustles”

All this moves and rustles, plays and waves, dances blindly to someone's pipe and crowns someone's thought.It plays and sings and beckons with an apple branch and at times

“‘la vie,’ Edith Piaf sings

"La vie," Edith Piaf sings, "La vie, la vie," seize the moment . . . And this voice is eternally right and there's no threat of it being buried in oblivion. "La vie," she sings,

Trees VI

Neither with paint, nor with a brush. Light is his kingdom: his hair is gray. The red leaves tell lies. Here light tramples color. Color is trampled by light. The heel of light

“Bring to me all that’s of no use to others:”

Bring to me all that's of no use to others: My fire must burn it all! I lure life, and I lure death As weightless gifts to my fire. Fire loves light-weighted things: Last

“It is not fated that, in this world,”

It is not fated that, in this world, The strong join the strong. Thus, Siegfried parted from Brunhild, A sword stroke instead of a marriage.In the allied brotherly hatred --Like

VIII

Someone's heading for a fatal victory. Trees gesture like tragedies. Sacrificial dance of Judea! Trees flutter like sacramentals. This--a conspiracy against the era: Against

“The wind revels in the quiet night”

The wind revels in the quiet night . . . The Lord has marked the coming day in a black draft, so as to recreate it on a clean white copy, and the sky will be bright in a moment and will

Animal Transport

The eighties began with the Olympics in Moscow. In spite of the boycott by many western countries, Leonid Brezhnev, who was General Secretary at the time, was determined to prevent the whole

“Well, let’s fly . . .”

"Well, let's fly . . ." "Where to and why?" "Just fly to nowhere after that cloud . . ." Just let's rush off nowhere, nowhere, let's listen to the wires humming and the

from Me and So Forth

Me and Perestroika Now I will tell you how perestroika collapsed. To be more precise, it hasn't collapsed yet, but it definitely will due to the archaic institutions of the family and

“Fate’s little pictures”

Fate's little pictures drawn by a most slender pen, will hang in the damp air on a little spider's web. The rains draw with their own flying handwriting, and the wind shuffles

WORK: MORNING: PAPERS

to V. S. but you are not the surrounding of such a one but a stair in yourself where poverty is like skyglow: oh

Me and Perestroika

Now I will tell you how perestroika collapsed. To be more precise, it hasn't collapsed yet, but it definitely will due to the archaic institutions of the family and marriage, which

PLACE: A BEER-STALL

oh clearly with gathered force everywhere it shows itself: skyglow of the year like features of the

THIRD GRASSHOPPER

(after the "Grasshoppers" of Velimir Khlebnikov and e.e. cummings) to my son Andrey grasshopper-sign

AND: LIKE A WHITE PAGE

in dust is no vowel. . . death is a sound: a shout - to God? he - in the surface of dust: is what then - a

FIELD - ALL YEAR - OUT OF THE WINDOW

to W. Woroczylski behind my back - it seemed - were islands: of the terror-idea! - as if

Nancy

Nancy was this woman. From America. A woman general. And not just a general, but an advisor to the president. Rumor even had it she could do the same amount of push-ups as any other American

AGAIN: IN THE INTERVALS OF SLEEP

what is watching always comes to an end: and the day! and the world! . . it is the unique the unceasing

CONSOLATION: ROSES

to N. A. in your presence even the toes are as if they remembered! and the mind more strongly pierces our

IX

What revelations, What truths What do you rustle of, The floods of green? With sacraments Of what raving sibyl, What do you rustle of, What do you rave about? What's in

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