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Monday, October 24, 2016

Writer Vladimir Soloviev: the Last of the Mohicans

Vladimir Solovyov is a writer-the orchestra performs in a variety of roles — essayist-cultural commentator, memoirist with analytical bias, and now the analyst. His literary career began in the Soviet Union as a critic, as a writer-memoirist keeps her in the United States. A friend of Brodsky, Dovlatov, he leads his series life of remarkable people. And for the last year and a half he unleashed on readers some snegopad: about Dovlatov (“to Be Sergei Dovlatov. The tragedy of a merry man”), about Brodsky (Joseph Brodsky. The apotheosis of solitude”), Evtushenko (“Not only Yevtushenko”) and Vladimir Vysotsky (Vladimir Vysotsky and others”), and again about Brodsky and Dovlatov (Izd-vo Ripol Klassik”). And suddenly, for no reason at all — “Donald trump. The battle for the White house”. About the Russian-speaking new York, literature, politics, the dissidents we spoke with Vladimir Solovyov.

photo: From personal archive

I scribbled hundreds of pages about Brodsky

— Vladimir, how do you all power-something missing? Sleep or, like Napoleon, to sleep just a few hours?

— Sleep, about 3-4 hours, and that is with sleeping pills. However, we reach the day when I marivoet, — the afternoon of a Faun dream. But it turns out two days in one! It’s not that I’m a workaholic. Sleep is another, subconscious reality, I’m more interested in what’s going on in my mind and around me awakens curiosity. And, of course, “pen to paper”, I mean to my computer files. So much left unsaid and untold — I was in a hurry to overtake time. If I am the revanchist, in the highest sense — all the same what to play chess with Death. Remember, in Bergman’s “the Seventh seal”?

And in the specific situation of Russian-speaking new York special, with nothing comparable to the sense of literary responsibility — after the death of Brodsky and Dovlatov I am left here alone to keep the redoubt and to the best of their ability, should continue common cause. To make the fact that they did not, and no one except me, for them will not make it. The tribe died out, centrovite left. My repeatedly republished forbidden-treasured book about Brodsky’s called: “Post mortem” — there with me soavtorstve dead, I gave him my word, he said something that didn’t get to say in life or contradicts anything he said in life.

— That is by reincarnation. You play the role of Brodsky?

— Reincarnation and the suspension — both systems involved — with Stanislavsky Meyerhold in one bottle. I scribbled hundreds of pages about Brodsky in a variety of genres — from memoir to literary-critical and realized that deep takes a lot of artistry. Here is my remote time teacher Yuri Tynyanov — and as a critic and as a biographer — his novels about Kuhle, Griboyedov and Pushkin. And I write metaphysical novels about people who knew and closely, almost on a daily level communicated: with more Brodsky in St. Petersburg, and with Dovlatov’s already here in new York, where we were neighbors. Although it was in Leningrad I was doing the introduction to his only literary evening in the House of writers, preserved pictures. Osia treated us with Lena (Elena Klepikova — wife and co-author Vladimir Solovyov. — M. R.) patronizing and caring, like an older brother. Even in the poem dedicated to us, he did not fail to note:

They, of course, us younger

and even, maybe, more stupid.

But in General they are similar

two clever pigeons

that Hawk has invited me

And Hawk forgot about anger.

Well, Hawk is, of course, Brodsky himself. Then in America he will turn this autobiographical metaphor in the great poem “Autumn shout of a hawk”. And I had forgotten about anger — pretty sure our house (our house and he called an oasis in the desert Leningrad) Osia in fact once magical, calm down, he was comfortable and cozy, because life was still the misanthrope: “my Blood cold. It lyutey cold river frozen to the bottom. I don’t like people”. In this relaxed state, dressed in rags, he was, hadn’t shown up yet other then our friend-the poet — liveried Jew Sasha Kushner. Between them was strained, as well, between hungry and well-fed: Brodsky was a crazy city, and his poems was not published, but Kushner was part of the force as the semiofficial poet and was treated kindly by the authorities.

photo: From personal archive
Mikhail Baryshnikov and Joseph Brodsky.

In the past, the living and the dead, no matter — in the same row. The memory of the past

— Still you are lucky to friends — in addition to Brodsky and Dovlatov still Okudzhava, Efros, Yevtushenko, Slutsky, Moritz, Rhine, Iskander…

— Like them on me. Would they be otherwise with us — with Lena Klepikova and me — to know, to be friends, to spend days and nights, to read us his new opus, to take us to plays, to devote us some of his poetry.

— No, you definitely won’t die of modesty.

— And who died from modesty? No, I will die, of course, for another reason, when it’s meant to be. So I’m in a hurry. A race with death… And as for our then youth, then I think this further attracted to us elders. Boris Slutsky directly told me that he is bored and is closely among their own, keeping in mind people of the war generation — Kirsanov. As they fled, for example, with Desicom Samoilov: “you and I were roommates, and now the door opened. Not to be confused longer under my feet,” he said in parting, Slutsky. Remember, Boris Abramovich looked to us on the red army and it took me about Lena to join the Union of writers: “And then some Jews!” — he joked. But we have adjusted in the other direction — over the hill.

While Efros was offended and angry if I, having been at its premiere, never called him that evening. Because of the “Othello” he told me a dressing arranged directly on the street, passers-by turned around, Natasha Krymova barely calmed him down. One of the books in this memoir-analytical series I like to call “Younger contemporary” — but implementors rebelled, so I renamed it in “Vysotsky and others. The memory of the living and the dead.” And the subtitle is like this — answering your, Marina, burn — the alleged oxymoron, because in the past, the living and the dead, no matter — in the same row. Memory of the past. I write in the preamble to this book: “Living people turned into a literary dead, but the dead will water the living water and take a walk in the light. While writing, the living will die, but will revive the dead. Here and rearrange them. Will perpetuate the other… the Book stinks of death. With the world, with the past, with death, with God.

— Original and… blatantly. So this book you are completing your memoir cycle?

— No, in the plan we have with Lena Klepikova, like my distant ancestor, the Pentateuch. Though God and chuckles, overhearing the plans of man, but for September we have scheduled another publisher, this time really the last book in this series. The names vary, but right now I’m leaning towards “Journey from St. Petersburg to new York”. Two previous books about the sixties — Evtushenko and Vladimir Vysotsky, and this about the next generation, which was itself against the sixties. Here the topography is different: the sixties mainly Muscovites and Leningraders we — before we became new Yorkers. Six characters in search of an author.

— Are you sure that for you personally this meme Pirandello? You’re the author of this “Journey from St. Petersburg to new York”?

— And at the same time one of his heroes. The author’s character is not one-to-one with the author. All of us, including me, historical characters already, I do not separate myself from the others and look at ourselves, with a certain degree of alienation. I will say more: do not always even recognize myself, and sometimes I don’t recognize. Nor St. Petersburg, and then Moscow, or even local, new York.

Dovlatov didn’t die, helped him

— I think this period of your — not only your personal but also your fellow double — life especially interesting. How has your life changed in a foreign land?

— Nostalgia — it’s part of my writing partner and part-time wife with Lena Klepikova. Yes, and I have time for nostalgia no. As he was not at Brodsky and Dovlatov. Reproached them because they never went home. “A tourist? — asked Brodsky. — In the scene go back, but not where you have been humiliated”. But Dovlatov, he explained his unwillingness to return, even temporarily, in a word: “Drink too much”.

photo: From personal archive
With Sergei Dovlatov.

— A drunk, excuse me, in new York.

— More difficult. He has had big binges, himself a witness, but he was out of them, was lapping milk like a kitten. He didn’t die, he was helped to die.

— What do you mean by “helped”?

First wrote about this Brodsky in his epitaph Dovlatov — the nurses on “er”, two assholes, Latinos, who put himself on the stretcher and firmly tied to him, and his stomping on the way to the hospital and began to tear. As said the driver of the ambulance: “He choked on his own vomit”. Tragic, ridiculous, terrible death. In fact manslaughter.

— What is horror, and horror in the banality!

— If it was destined to survive Sergei before he died, that we should know about it and not hide behind euphemisms.

— How do you live and is happening in a foreign environment?

— Not completely foreign this environment, Marina. Russian Americans in this country more than three million, most of all, of course, in our Cosmopolis new York, but they are scattered and all over the U.S., including Alaska: Sitka, the former capital of Russian Alaska, home to the poet and the dealer on the phone Eugene Solovyov, our son. And in our city about the Russian language stumble at every step on the street, on the opening day, on opening night. The same Dovlatov did not go beyond the Russian community, although published in the prestigious “new Yorker.” Yuz Aleshkovsky, in his words, is not going to change the legitimate wife — the Russian language — with his mistress — English. Even Brodsky, bilingual writer, told me that he had taken with him from St. Petersburg all the corps de ballet of the readers, believing himself, not without reason, the prima ballerina. Not to mention the local Russian poster — exhibitions, performances, literary evenings Russians. And the local Russian Newspapers — more than two dozen, dazzled, do not know what to buy. Thanks to this periodicals Dovlatov and was held here as a writer, and he was editor-in-chief of the weekly “New American”.

photo: From personal archive
Elena Klepikova, Vladimir Solovyov and Mikhail Shemyakin.

— As a newspaperman I wonder which edition is best?

— Don’t tell me again that I will not die of modesty: the one in which is printed Vladimir Solovyov. As he spoke the Marquis de Custine, I’m modest when talking about myself, but proud, when you compare yourself.

— To you and back. First, about your tandem Vladimir Solovyov & Elena Klepikova. The more familiar pair of men’s: the brothers Goncourt, Strugatsky brothers or friends, the co-authors Ilf and Petrov. How do you work on a pair of his wife?

— In contrast to the mentioned singles we with Lena Klepikova the main achievements in single heats, most of the books we have solo, with one name on the cover and we agree in the memoirs and books like in the same “Dovlatov”, which both were close familiar. But even there — as in the “Brodsky” and “Yevtushenko” — rateplease, each with their own separate chapters — too Lena and different people in all respects, not only gender. Yes, in the joint political Thriller: family business, but a complete division of labor. I’m more about politics, and Lena — on the part of psychology. And then from time to time bicker, completely of disagreement and controversy.

No sacred cows for me does not exist

— Here-here, about your “politician” and I wanted to ask. As it is you, the pure humanist, and in this “mess” sorted out? And now here’s your Lena book about Donald trump. As you are all missing?

— At first — reluctant. Only thanks to this politologist we keep here afloat: first, regular articles in the most prestigious American media, starting with the “new York times” and “wall street journal”, and then there were books about the us abandoned the country, including biographies of the leaders of the Kremlin — Andropov, Gorbachev, Yeltsin; translations into a dozen languages, according to our fabulous shovels notions of the fees that we still have not eaten and not traveled. Even our American Newspapers wrote about our six-figure advances, Fazil Iskander said, ‘This is forever’. And Serezha Dovlatov with a knife to her throat: “How much, after all, a six — digit number from 100 to 999 thousand.” I reassured as they could: significantly closer to the bottom mark. In short, we patched Pro-scientists, and when the Soviet Union collapsed and our homeland came out of political fashion, Willy-nilly engaged in Americanos.

photo: From personal archive

Rybalovsky book about trump — in fact, not only about him, but about how to make presidents in America, how American democracy works and it always works. Do not compare, of course, but we focused on the great book of Alexis de Tocqueville’s “Democracy in America” with regard to our time. Again, the analytical get the book, but from the genre of entertaining science.

— Your books are in demand on both sides of the ocean, but there are critics who regard you as a troublemaker, a brawler — literary. How do you feel about those in your address attacks?

— Calmly. Does not stick like water off a duck. Or, according to the American politslengom, I’m Teflon. Not that I’m all purple, but I myself, being a Samoyed to the bone, bringing himself so high, the Hamburg account, which is invulnerable to all kinds of assaults and the philippics. The account not only as artist but also as a person. Well, Jewish guilt, or, as our Catholic, mea culpa.

The first literary scandal was caused by my penitential confession “Three Jews”, written in Russia. There I disturb myself, excuse me, shit, but rushed to defend not me, but other characters mentioned there. And then off we go: that no publication is a scandal. I’m not only a critic by profession, but by nature: no sacred cows for me does not exist, prohibitions and taboos is not for me. Here in America, too, in the fashion of so-called political correctness, and being on many issues disagree with Donald trump (he’s a hero of our book, but not the hero of my novel), I strongly welcome the fact that he’s not afraid to call a spade a spade. As said count Leo Tolstoy — the ripping of all masks. The moor has done his duty, the moor can go: thanks to him, we have here came the “None of the above” era.

But in Russia, as long as I remember, the sect is untouchable: not one the wife of Caesar, and the whole harem of king Solomon. Do not touch it, because he officialdom, and this is because he is a dissident. Lena and Klepikova faced with this at the beginning of our American life, when published in “the new York times” article about Sakharov, who was named a commander without troops and compared with don Quixote, with his own article with rainbow dissident predictions which, alas, did not materialize. Well if the article caused a scandal, we are used to, but academician Sakharov in response vetoed all of our already adopted by the publication in Paris of the dissident journal Kontinent, a member of the editorial Board of which he was. That’s caused quite a scandal, because Western Democrats did not expect such a reaction to criticism from the beacon of Russian democracy. In the book “Vysotsky and others” a whole Chapter about this scandalous story, which ironically is called “Thanks to academician Sakharov”. And that, in fact, thanks to its taboo and we went into American journalism. There would be no happiness, Yes the misfortune has helped. I think that thanks to this Chapter, although it is not only her new my book again it will cause a scandal. Like this our conversation, I’m afraid. That is not at all afraid. And you, Marina?

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