Leaves in Layers


I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky / Translated by Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev
This is another one of those interesting bilingual books. These translations are highly lauded, although I think that in all the concern for meter, there was something lost in the simple aspect of diction. Но, я сноб такой. Самое лучшее эссей в конце книгы “Erotic Soyuz”.

The Big Green Tent / Ludmila Ulitskaya
Read Of Translation and Politics in Russian Literature.

“Ivy: A Love Story” / Mathew Chacko

“Everything Stuck to Him” / Raymond Carver
One that I had neglected to read when I read him years ago. It’s always good to read Ray Carver again, or, in this case, for the first time. It’s not the best. But it’s still Carver. I know he has his own trajectory, but thinking more generally, I compare this with Hemingway. It’s so American, as if we can write so well that it’s objectively good, no matter the cultural meaning behind it. I think that there’s a place for this kind of approach. However, I’m not one who believes that there is some kind of neutral and objectively good writing that is above culture and whatever language it’s written in. But what do I know.

Он упадет к коленам.

“Метель” Александра Пушкина
Я еще раз прочитал этот рассказ, который я “перевел” пару лет назад. Он такой надежный. Можно так хорошо дышать после чтения его. Поэтому перевел…


Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams / Charles King
This is such a good work of history. I’m especially impressed by the discussion of Jabotinsky, thankful for the reading, since it means I can peruse but not go too deeply into The Five.

не работает с моей дочью…

“Пиковая дама” Александра Пушкина
Я думал, может быть, читать этот рассказ вместо вверхнего в моём классе. Не знаю в момент. Надо поспать одну ночь. Смешнее вверхнего, и это стоит много. Ну, хочется знать про ту девушку.

Young Brodsky

“A Commencement Address” (1984) / Joseph Brodsky
Interesting, however I don’t want to dismiss Christ’s teaching quite that easily. And I’m not so sure with regard to what he said about India. But I certainly enjoy this “tactic.” I think my hesitation comes from my knowledge of how much Brodsky resents Tolstoy. But another idea from the beginning is how similar Evil is to us, how almost identical, sort of a doppelganger. In this case, he’s presaging what the latest Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Svetlana Aleksievich, is saying in this interview. We mistake good and evil for one another.

“Viy” / Nikolai Gogol (Pevear/Volkhonsky)
Just in time for Halloween! I still love this, and this time I read alongside the 1967 Soviet film. Is Gogol a satirist or a mystic? It’s a trick question, although you can’t say that he’s only a mystic, while some only focus on his satiric humor. Translation’s not bad.


“Everything Can be Montaged” / Viktor Shklovsky (Shushan Avagyan)
I love this essay for this and other lines like it: “One cannot predict life.” Out of context, it might not mean much. But it discusses how language works comprehensively, how important context is, how important growth is, how important the dynamic of a work of art is to its life.

“Our Father, the Lost Geometer”
“To be Sung at Certain Funerals” / John Freeman (Baltimore Review)
My friend has always caused me to have to run to the dictionary, and in these poems he continued that great tradition. It has been a long time since we first read poems in front of people in Detroit. I remember a fiddleback spider in a bottle. Despite our good friendship, we have lived in different places for a long time now. If I miss Detroit, the place from which I come, home, if you will, I can always read a John Freeman poem to remember. That humid fog…

A Clockwork Orange / Anthony Burgess
I started it. I couldn’t keep going. A baroque something about Burgess’ language turns me off. Maybe another day I’ll try again, on a stabler stomach.


“Шерри-бренди” Варлама Шаламова
Я вспомнил рассказ, именно цитату “Записать, напечатать – все это суета сует. Все, что рождается небескорыстно, – это не самое лучшее. Самое лучшее то, что не записано, что сочинено и исчезло, растаяло без следа, и только творческая радость, которую ощущает он и которую ни с чем не спутать, доказывает, что стихотворение было создано, что прекрасное было создано. Не ошибается ли он? Безошибочна ли его творческая радость?” Вот оно. Нашёл слова, ими вдохновился, и опять напрягаюсь.

“Девочки и мальчики”
“Бедный враг” Людмилы Улицкой (Детский мир)
Очень импресионистические…то, что мне сказали, чтобы сказать что-то, когда не понравился мой рассказ.


“Die Maßnahme” / Bertolt Brecht
“The Measures Taken” / Bertolt Brecht
I had to look at this hardcore Communist text, with that ending, “Comprehension of the individual and comprehension of the whole: Taught only by reality can/reality be changed.” Brecht presents the problem, dialectically, but he doesn’t solve it for either the “junge Genossen” or the “vier Agitatoren.”

Катакомбы (За власть советов) Валентина Катаева
Хороший писатель, с тем, как он может описывать место и описание относится к атмосферу части романа. Мне нравится “одесский юмор,” который, в его жизни, облегчил сложные моменты…

The Book of Daniel / E.L. Doctorow
I’m really enjoying the perspective so far.

“The Green Light of Dawn” / Olga Zilberbourg (Epiphany)
This story is a difficult read, because of the subject matter. There’s a lot of exposure of the oppressed position of women in Russo-Ukrainian society. This, to me, is unexplored territory. Olga is a brave writer to be taking it on. Likely this has something to do with her Pushcart nomination for this story. Mainly, I think that the way she leads up to this is what makes this story so good. It’s not the black and white predator and his prey, even though the rapist is certainly guilty in full here. There is nuance to this horrible event. Again, this is a compliment to the writer.

Anatolia and Other Stories / Anis Shivani
These are really interesting, such a different perspective for an American writer. There’s a lot of exposition, at least in “Gypsy.” The characterization is good, but I’d like it to come out more in scene than in narrative. But we keep reading it aloud to each other.

“Downriver” / Cal Freeman (Hobart)
I love me some Freeman…