This pieces are excerpted from : "The Book of Water", «Книга воды», published by Ad Marginum Press. Moscow 2002.
is one of 8 books written by Limonov, during his 2 years in prison (2001-2003)
THE BLACK SEA - SOCHI
recollections about water, about the seas, rivers and fountains, I have no particular system. I began this book with the Mediterranean Sea, with Nice, with Natalia Medvedeva carefully swimming towards the buoys in a sea without waves. But I could have started
with the Black Sea, with the beaches in Gudauty covered in thickets of weeds. You can read these recollections of mine starting on any page going in any direction. They float in eternity; they don't need to be any particular length, for they float in the span
Here's another memory-clot, a personal voyage. It was 1974. We were supposed to leave for the West. We gave our documents, just as you were supposed to, to a sullen officer, and he put the documents
into a safe.
My brilliantly air-headed wife of that era! In fact, following her air-headed luck, I was carried along in the wake of her air-headed luck. My wife came up on her sporty long legs (the old folks who'd
sit around outside her podezd considered her legs to be thin), full of energy from her sex-slit which was all irritated because of me, Elena decided that we had to go to Sochi. She quickly arranged a meeting there with her friends from the theater world and
high society. And we took off for Sochi. Among my many virtues, one is that I don't fight against fate, but rather, I become one of those who desire it. Since, as Lenin explained, "Fate carries forward those who desire it." There were times when I had no idea
where she was leading me, yet, trusting her, I went anyway. And I arrived just as we agreed.
Next frame: Sochi, we're standing in the corridor of the Zhemchuzhina Hotel. Diagonally across from us, behind desks,
is the strict administrative staff: one of them is a fat-faced guy, some kind of Eric or Edik, the one we're after. Elena is all over me, ragging on me. An angry whisper: "Well, go on, coward... we'd already be resting in our room by now..." Go and live with
Vitya, I want to tell her, but instead I walk up to the administrator. In my passport I'm carrying money. I should hand it over to this Eric or Edik, having said that we came from Galya Volcheka or from Igor's... with heavy legs, like the statue of Komandor,
I make my way to the desk.
"We're from Igor's," I say.
"We're full," Eric or Edik answers indifferently.
I shuffle back.
In the future, I experienced such defeats in a foreign language. I'd ask, "What time is it?" They'd answer not simply, as I'd expected; not "five thirty" or "six" or "seven o'clock." But, let's say, they'd answer, "Five minutes after the middle of the day."
And I, fool, didn't understand a thing.
"All the rooms are taken," I report angrily, like a sheep dog, to my young wife.
"What's this? You didn't even give him
the money!" Out of desperation, she's on the verge of crying. White jeans, pink shirt, the porcelain eyes of a doll -- she's a dream girl, the whole hotel is staring at her.
"I don't know how to give bribes," I
say in an icy tone.
"So it's up to your wife to teach you how to bribe," she says in an even icier tone. Yet she didn't burst into a full-fledged quarrel. Her face warmed up.
"Tosik!" She walked past and behind me and returned with a middle-aged man in a gray uniform. A young woman with a baby followed behind him.
"Ed! This is Tosik Aliev! This is my new husband! I left Viktor!"
Having finished with the business about her husbands, Elena evilly turned to her business at-hand: "Tosik, you can do anything. We're homeless, we can't get a room here, they're all taken."
"Go stand over there
with your wife!" Tosik says to me. "Go, go, I'll come to some sort of agreement with the rebyata over there. This place is always full."
"Should we leave our passports?"
with your passports later."
We take our things and move up behind the women and girls. No one stops us at the entrance, even though they're even stopping foreigners.
1999 or 2000, if I remember right, in "Sovershenno Sekretno" or "Versiya," I discovered a photograph: Lena, me, a fat Armenian kid, a squat evil girl, Tofik Aliev and his wife are all standing in the Black Sea waves with the hotel Zhemchuzhina in the background.
Lena -- looking fat, with a hat on her, fat on her sweet sides. I'm looking muscled and tan, looking like a soldier between sybarites. I'm surrounded by mugshots, and an arrow is pointed at me. And Tofik Aliev (not "Tosik" as Elena mistakenly called him),
as it turns out, was at that time one of the first big-time Russian Mafiosi. Maybe even the Godfather of the Russian Mafia at that time. The three or four-page article was devoted entirely to him. He spoke about me in the interview, remembering our vacation
In 1974 I knew that he was a big-time "tsekhovik," as they used to say then -- that is, a businessman and a criminal. But I didn't suspect that he was such a big shot. I'm happy for him.
That summer Elena succeeded in tormenting me. She nagged me about everything I was incapable of doing, that Viktor could but I didn't know how to. Tofik Aliev defended me and explained that Edik is still a young person, he'll learn.
It was clear to me that I'd never learn how to bribe, but I was grateful to Tofik. When he was with us I didn't have to arrange anything, he did it himself: in restaurants they brought everything to our table without delay, they cooked our shashlik quickly,
they brought the best wines out, and the other bandits didn't bother us. Apart from that he was perhaps the only one who didn't go after Elena. He was in love with his young wife, and his little girl brought him happiness.
What brought me happiness in that last summer in Russia? Not Elena, since we quickly picked up some kind of venereal disease, in all probability from the beach, and spent our time healing. The Zhemchuzhina at that time wasn't even completely built.
You could go straight down from the elevator below, to a corridor reeking of fresh cement, and from there straight out onto the beach. They'd hardly had time to take out the boards from the cement which they'd placed there in order to lay the tiling. In the
Zhemchuzhina, half of the guests were foreigners -- from the socialist countries for the most part, of course.
But there were also tour groups from the capitalist countries. So, for example, the photograph that
appeared later in the newspaper Versiya was taken by a Frenchman, the big-nosed lover of some thin, evil wench in the same photograph. Today that wench should be fifty-five years old, since I'm writing these lines two days before the 22nd of June and on the
22nd, Elena should turn 51 and this wench was older than her. I mention these foreigners not without reason, since Elena and I figured we'd caught our illness from them, having laid on lounge chairs or having sat on plastic seats underneath the umbrellas.
The barmen on the Zhemchuzhina's beach brought me much joy. They prepared simply the most stunning martinis. With the possible exception of one Irish picnic I was at in New York.
Everyone was in love with Elena.
It wasn't easy being her husband. They tried, in the old Caucasian tradition, to get me drunk and fuck my wife somewhere. It was particularly difficult taking part in all the trips to the mountains where everyone was drinking hard and feasting in the outdoors,
around campfires, with shashlik. But I dealt with it: I downed a canister of vodka, and came to my senses in a bed in the Zhemchuzhina with my wife.
The water that summer in the Black Sea was hot. The Frenchman,
his thin bitch, Elena and I drove out in the Frenchman's sports car to Gagry. We wanted to go all the way to Sukhumi, have fun there for a few days and then return to the Zhemchuzhina. On the way there, however, they had a horrible fight -- a crazy Russian
wench with a peeling nose started to attack the Frenchman's steering wheel, and somewhat south of Gagry we made a sharp U-turn and tore back. We hadn't even reached the little town of Gagry yet.
A postcard from
Elena's mother awaited us in Sochi: she informed us that OVIR had sent a notification: we'd been given permission to leave Russia up until September 30th on a PMZh (permanent exile). We got some tickets for a Sochi-Yalta boat and, drunken, along with other
drunkards, loaded ourselves on board the ship. A crazy driver in a leather jacket raced us at a crazy speed from Yalta to Koktebel. I wanted to show Elena that I knew my way around here. And I wanted to show off Elena to Maria Nikolaevna (a famous high-society
woman). Elena was my war trophy, my occupied city -- that was the only way I could see her. By the end of the next year, 1975, they took my occupied city away from me. I didn't expect that to happen. But even if I'd expected that, still, the pleasure I got
from having taken this city was so wonderful that I had to seize it, even if they take it back from you later.
When I entered this wench, ramming her on the boat as the waves rocked us, O! True, some years later
in Paris we had another romantic adventure, but I won't tell you a thing about it. Just a few words: somehow in the chambre de bonne na Rue d'Alsace, for a long time, I drove her to utter exhaustion through two adjacently-placed holes. And she wept bitterly
because of it.
----- ----- ----- ----- -----
The Banya on Masha Poryvaeva St. - Moscow
It was 1968. I lived with Anna Rubinstein on Kazarmenni Lane in a room in a wood building. The apartment's owner was named Ludmila. She had a drunkard husband nicknamed "Yorsh" -- he worked at a grocery store, the former director of a technical
college -- a son Alik, a daughter Alla and the youngest daughter, Lena.
At 25, young girls already appealed to me. I remember how my hands shook when I measured Lena: her mother had asked that I sew her blouse.
I had a sewing machine in my room next to the typewriter and I would earn money from time to time sewing pants. That Lena should be 48 years old now, perhaps she is even tied down to a husband, but back then she was a charming girl with black eyes, nipples
hard under her shirt, a restless ass... Anna, my wife, wasn't around for the measuring. I immortalized the measuring scene in Diary of a Loser.
We lived very poorly. I remember I would go to a basement cafeteria
on the Garden Ring, at the corner of Kirov St. I would buy tea, eat the free black bread and mustard and, when nobody was looking, finish off whatever food the diners had left on the plates. Art was what mattered. Writing brilliant poems. I tried to make them
brilliant, estranged my poems (made them strange) using Shklovsky's and the Opoyazovts' technique.
Our building was made of birch. Now they've gotten rid of those buildings, but back then several of them stood
by Kazarmenny (parallel to the Garden Ring). Ludmila's apartment had three rooms. In the first, the largest, were the mother and her children, Yorsh stayed further down in the next, and we were in the smallest, with a window that faced out into the courtyard.
When glancing out the window, it was possible to think it was the sixteenth century; the frames of sheds, snowdrifts, old roofs were all visible from the window. The hygiene was foul; everyone, of course, washed in the morning in the kitchen and there was
a toilet, but that was it. There wasn't even a cold-water bathroom. Fleas abounded in the building and our legs were always bitten up to the knee.
We went to a public banya on Masha Poryvaeva St. to wash. There
are beams and debris at that place now and I didn't even try to walk among them; it was too depressing to see that landscape so changed.
In 1968, there was an old, homey banya on Masha Poryvaeva where, entering
the lobby, you could buy a ticket for either the public hall or a cabin. It cost more for a cabin. Inside, there was an entry room with a reasonably wide bench and a shower. I don't remember the prices of that banya anymore.
An old man, when leading clients to their cabin, never found fault with anything and never asked the clients to identify themselves, so Anna and I could go in a single cabin, like husband and wife. Never mind that we looked like mother and son. Never
mind the fact that our marriage was never registered with the state. The old man was kind and unfazed. On his old jacket there were numerous packs of orders and medals, in several rows. He smoked some sort of wild plant and was always shrouded in smoke.
Once a week we went to a cabin in the Masha Poryvaeva banya. We would take off our coats -- Anna had a dark cherry-colored coat with a fur collar, and she also wore this furry hood. I took off my heavy black ratinovoe -- sewn
in Kharkov by an Armenian tailor -- hung it on a hook, placed our sheets from the banya on the bench, took off the rest of our clothes and went to shower. I went first, turned on the water and adjusted it. Anna would enter after me, covering herself with her
hands, one on the obvious place, where sculptors place a fig leaf, and the other across the whole of her long chest.
We had already lived together for four years, and that Ruebensesque woman, apparently, already
bored me. I felt that, but my mind still didn't understand. Her steadfast swollen flesh annoyed me already, and our relationship would soon be like a business one. Or friendly. We scrubbed each other's back and sometimes copulated in a fit of passion in that
cabin on Masha Poryvaeva. That happened more frequently when I was hung over, in Kazarmenni. There was too much stifling flesh on Anna; her unbelievable rear gave her the defining bulk of the goddess Demeter.
was 25, she was 32; not for nothing did I steal looks at 15-year-old Lena when, she stumbled sleepily into a kitchen chair, her beautiful figure tipping like a young plaster piggybank. Pioneer Lena ironed her tie, knotted it -- the kitchen smelled like a tie
-- and, turning her butt, slid through the door.
I went back to my room and sat to write a poem. I tortured myself with poems, punished myself with poems, wrote by the kilometer for ten hours a day! Only a little
piece of that abundant poetic ground meat was subsequently squeezed into a collection of Russian poetry published by the Ardis publishing house in Massachusetts in 1979.
In 1974, all or almost all of these notes,
including the ones written at Kazarmenni Lane not far from the banya on Masha Poryvaeva St. (about 100 meters), were taken out of Russia.
Leaving America in 1980, I gave them to the archive of the Slavic Studies
professor John Bowlt from the University of Texas in Austin. Subsequently, John Bowlt gave these carefully numbered kilometers of writing (I remember there were definitely at least 1235 pages) to some other university. So they are still somewhere, these kilometers.
When the hostility towards me for being the leader of the National Bolshevik Party recedes, they will start to study these thousand-plus pages. All the more so because of the confusion written there: poems next
to a diary and the descriptions of events. There, in the fragments of writing, is the history of my last years with Anna and the beginnings of my romance with Elena.
The banya on Masha Poryvaeva St. was, I suppose,
ordinary -- a building left over, perhaps, from old, pre-Revolutionary days. The old doors, swollen from the steam, the old split stove, the dirt. Twenty years later, people in Paris started inviting me to a nightclub called les Bains Douches.
Les Bains Douches became a fashionable place right after it opened on Sebastopol Boulevard. I met Roman Polanski there at the end of the 80's, I saw the young, rickety Vanessa Paradis sitting at the bar, I was introduced to Jacques
Chaban-Delmas when he was, it seems, the head of the National Assembly.
"Bains Douches" literally means "Banya-Shower" translated from French, which is where those words came from into Russian. The club was renovated
from an old banya, which is how it got its name. The smart managers left a red stove and a part of the dried-out pool (they danced there).
This original idea kept Bains Douches a cult club for quite a while. A
miserable pack of rejects stood outside every night. And I remembered Anna Moiseyevna and that Moscow banya on Masha Poryvaeva St.
----- ----- ----- -----
The Horse Fountain at Manezh - Moscow
When the sun was hot, I used to go watch the changing of the guard at Manezh. There's this one
place there. You need to stand on the promenade over the fountain with the horses and look down. Moscow girls wander around there, from teens on up. They gather, the daring ones shout, or drink the fountain's spray. If they're in a group they carry themselves
more boldly: they'll poke each other, splash water, laugh, squeal. If the wind is blowing, it always scatters water on them, and their nipples show clearly through their shirts. Young animals -- they are very fine.
Moscow there are so few distractions and chances to show off your body, its borders, passion, tenderness. Nine months a year everyone walks around wrapped up to the throat in winter coats. The shorter it is the more valuable -- that phantasmagoric summer time.
And there's this corner where a man of my age can observe those frisky young figures unnoticed. Incidentally, I wasn't the only one going there; I haven't gone anywhere alone since September 18, 1996.
My Party surrounded me. As the boys' general, I oversaw their changing of the guard. Lokotkov was the oldest. He died in May, 1999. We burnt him at a crematorium. He was 28.
the end of March 1998, when I arrived from Novosibirsk, I knew that I had lost Liza. Her trust-shattering lies had become unbearable. I didn't want to share her with anybody. And she wanted to share herself. She specifically liked that. We broke up over the
telephone on March 26. Under her multilayered voice bubbled a man's voice. She was with somebody, and let her be! I told myself, calling a girl, Vasilisa from Vologda. She helped me recover from the loss and then left for Vologda.
Spring began and I went to Manezh during Kostya's watch. It was unclear if Kostya approved of his leader's behavior or not -- he didn't say. Kostya was a migrant worker from Ukraine, from outside of Zaporozhya, a city called Energodar. In the past,
he had been a builder, butcher, actor and Soviet soldier serving in Germany. He had slept in the barracks of the old SS tank division, the Death's Head. His appearance wasn't welcoming: a shaved head, the face of one of Gering's Hitler Youth. Kostya was utterly
impassive, never revealing whether or not he approved of his leader's lustful outings; I laughed myself, saying that I had come "in search of young sluts."
When Limbus Press publishing house backed out on me, their
representative invited me to write a new book for them. I asked for a $10,000 advance and, laughing, told him that I had a plan and a title. The representative was interested. I told him the book would be called In Search of Young Sluts. The phone was silent
for some time. I think I had surpassed their wildest hopes.
Continuing in an affected manner, I carefully diagrammed my current mood, explaining that I specifically wanted an open young slut. Irritable and accessible,
happy and adroit, like a monkey, depraved and limber. I wasn't lying! That project with Limbus Press didn't work out. Kostya and I kept hanging around Manezh. My eyes roamed around. The choice was huge. An entire market of youthful creatures. I think they
went there with the secret purpose of finding themselves a buyer.
I had one difficult relationship with a charming girl, twelve years old. On June 20 a charming girl was supposed to bring some things to me. In
the evening. But it just so happened that that day, that morning, in fact, I came across Nastya's party card, with her photo and age. And that was that. There was no reason to go hunting young sluts anymore. Why bother, when a perfect child had appeared among
my own followers? A child has everything. A young slut. Light.
Damn, how she worried me...how I lusted after her! We didn't do it until August. We did everything but. I know people usually think I, the libertine,
seduced her. But who seduced whom? I don't know what prison will make of me, what I'll be when I leave it, but in 1998 I was an attractive middle-aged guy with well-defined features, hollow cheeks, bangs that fell on my forehead, echoing in the ears of young
girls. The editor of an edgy youth newspaper, the leader of a revolutionary party. Who else should a young talented girl -- a girl who chose a book of Bosch reproductions when I invited her to select a present -- fall in love with? Who else? We fit each other
perfectly. And, of course she was wild. But she was already showing signs of autism, she didn't love people. She was too eager to come off as extreme.
We walked around a lot that summer. I broke the Party
rules. I went with her to Manezh and she led me to the horse fountain herself. In front of the horses there is this fine circular reservoir with jets. She and I would spend hours there, on the edge: sun and water around us, in the center of the roar.
Everyone around us smiled. A touching scene: a teenage girl -- white knees in ripped jeans, rosy cheeks, light bangs...and her attractive, fit father. A musician, perhaps. As people say: like a pianist... Papa strolling with
his daughter. The daughter hugs papa around his neck, trying to push him under the spray, and falls in herself. Everyone's happy. What a frisky girl... she stands up wet. She laughs.
"Edward, I... want ice cream..."
That summer she was 16, and she looked about 11, maybe 13. She had tried speed a couple of years before and, as she said, she "almost lost her roof forever."
many of her poses remain with me: head down, sideways, hair in the water, cheeks blowing, releasing little bubbles. She wore a rose vial with a spray of bubbles on her neck.
I remember when we went to meet with
some Party members from out of town at Kropotkinskaya metro: she brought a monkey on a leash! Lokotkov was disturbed only for a moment. The Party members looked on in horror. I confess that I did not go out of my way to clarify the situation. Maybe she was
my daughter -- the daughter who is methodically teasing her monkey while the Party members and I, drinking around a table at a bar, discuss the Party's problems. Finally she got angry; she was so small, the high table was as tall as she was. She couldn't sit
with us as equals. That's why she got mad.
We spent a whole season there by the fountain. The spray glazed all those idiotic fairytale characters: the fisherman and the fish, along all that bronze foolery rashly
erected at the walls of the Kremlin. She and I were grateful for that place...I won't write any more...I'm stopping. I'm hurting...It's such a hot July.
----- ----- ----- -----
I went to Krasnoyarsk at the end of October, 2000, to write a book about Anatoly Bykov. I took my little girl with me -- "Tiny Nastya" as I named her in the pages of my book The Hunt for Bykov. The editor, to my wildest dissatisfaction,
seized the text (an author in prison can't stop this) and tore out several episodes from the book. (When I got the book and discovered the cuts, it was as if they'd torn off my foreskin it was so awful. I hope that the publisher corrects this on the second
printing, putting back in everything that has to do with my little girl.)
She's tiny because the last time I measured her she was all of 157 cm tall. When I was put in jail, she'd just turned 19. Tiny Nastya finished
all her lessons at the Literary Institute in one year and then dropped out. She writes wonderfully fanatical stories and she pastes the craziest collages from cut-out magazine pictures.
And she, of course, isn't
my daughter, although I call her my little girl. She's my girlfriend. There's a 39 year difference between us. The youngest "grass widow" [a widow whose husband is still alive yet inaccessible, ie., in jail - Ed.] in all of Russian literature.
We arrived in Krasnoyarsk, changed a couple of apartments, and finally settled into an apartment on the corner of Gorky Street and Lenin Street, right behind the Lenin Museum. There, in 1897, Lenin used to visit some exiled
workers who lived there. Circumstance saved this log-framed house from demolition when they started to build apartment blocks in the center. They turned the house into a museum.
I woke up around 8 in the morning,
walked into the kitchen, put some clothes on and sat down to write. The apartment was very cold; there was frost and outside, snow fell. Little Nastya stayed under six blankets, sweetly sleeping in the bed. I didn't feel like abandoning my warm puppet, but
I'd already received an advance for the book, and I wanted to get into the working tempo.
At the same time as I was writing the first chapters I continued meeting with those people involved in the tragedy of Anatoly
Bykov. The nature of the book -- witnesses, evidence -- meant I didn't have to wait until I'd gathered all the information to start writing. I began chronologically, with Anatoly Bykov's childhood and youth. The material about his childhood and youth was put
together by me in the town he was born in, Nazarovo, and then carried on in Krasnoyarsk.
In my book The Hunt for Bykov there's a bit about my visit there with Nastya. There are also some photos of Nastya in the
book. She looked funny -- in an orange hooded coat a military backpack on her shoulders. She started going into the stores in Krasnoyarsk like that by herself.
We lived without any excesses -- the party always
swallowed up all the money. Usually we'd buy some chicken at 41 rubles a kilogram, or frozen salmon, potatoes, rice, pasta, and for me a plastic 1-liter bottle of port wine for 40-45 rubles a bottle. When she'd return with her backpack on, you could hear it
-- she'd stamp her feet up the stairs forever. In her teeth she'd have some kind of green ice cream. Both of her cheeks were flush red.
In her case her radiant childish looks were deceiving -- in fact, inside of
her is a traumatized, self-reliant creature using every ounce of her strength. Her longest work was called "The Pit Bull Girl" -- a forty-page misanthropic take on the world. Her favorite singer is Marilyn Manson. In the hall of our Moscow apartment we'd hung
an A2-sized full-color portrait of him. Her favorite hero is Chikatilo [ Ukrainian serial killer ], whom she affectionately called "Andrushka."
"He's so defenseless," she'd say.
In Krasnoyarsk they started preparing for the New Year. We decided to go out for a long walk, after I'd told her that they'd brought clumps of ice to the center of town and that they were planning on making ice sculptures out of them. And that there
were even giant lizards.
We got dressed, grabbed a camera and left.
She dressed in warm tights, a pinafore, a bomber jacket and a coat over it. And under her hood she
wore a knitted hat with handles.
We walked along Prospekt Mira, strolling for a long time, freezing, and turned towards the iced-over Yenisei River.
When we first came
to Krasnoyarsk the Yenesei had already frozen. We were supposed to go out towards the frozen Yenesei but we didn't. We wanted to go into the Krasnoyarsk Hotel. The local TV had told us that that's where the best sculptures would be.
There was nothing going on in the city. I have very hot hands -- so I never wear gloves. And she forgot her mittens in Moscow, even though she'd prepared for the trip for a long time, she forgot about them anyway. I took her hands into mine and we moved
I was wearing the kind of rynok-bought "sheepskin" coat made out of gray tarpaulin (which I'd traded for a pair of Levi's with Taras Rabko). With a beard that looked like I was some provincial grandpa, and
she looking like a provincial granddaughter. And yet those two characters were in fact copulating!
Finally daddy and his little daughter (or grandfather and granddaughter) made their way to the Krasnoyarsk Hotel
where I photographed Nastya standing before giant ice bottles, glasses, shot glasses and some kinds of utensils.
It was colder than 30 below zero out, so we didn't cross the highway to the frozen Yesenei. We went
home. On the way we bought some port wine and food. At home I cooked a pot of chicken. We ate it all. Nastya downed her glass and I had two or three.
Then we pulled back the covers on the bed, lay down, embraced,
I ripped off her night shirt which my mom had sent and, as they say in the old respectable novels, "There wasn't a happier couple in the whole universe."
I understand now that I was living in paradise. I could
watch as she'd shuffle to the toilet in her night shirt, sleepy, her eyes barely open. How she'd dress in the mornings. She'd put everything on while lying down: underwear, tights, pants. When they finally brought us an electric heater -- thanks to Irina Mishaneva
-- we could finally walk around in as few clothes as we liked without shivering.
So that's how she'd dress, catching her underwear on the soles of her feet, lifting up her legs, raising them up into the air and
pulling her underwear up her soft little legs and over the rest. She could swear filthy words if the process took longer than she'd wanted. She was an animated object and, having hit the table or bed, she'd yell, "Jerk! How dare you!" and launched into invectives.
Still a baby, yet already a woman with a hardened character, an absolutely special girl. She felt, in every step, in every movement and act, a kind of holiness, at times a holy fool. Probably Joan d'Arc was the same way. I know women. I've never seen one like
Having got up, Tiny Nastya drank watery tea from a small bowl, like an old woman. She drank slowly and assiduously. At first when we met she'd eat in the mornings, but under my influence she stopped eating.
Then she crossed the kitchen and went to her room, where she sat down at a large table, full of affectations and talking to herself, she set about on two types of activity. Either she'd read a thick volume of Fomenko/Nosovsky's A New Chronology of Rus, England
and Rome, or she'd diligently write.
She wrote several notebooks' worth, though she'd never show me the results. So I didn't see them. She sat in such a way that from behind you could see her thin neck, and from
the nape of her neck her tiny little rat tail. I shaved my little blond girl's head down to the scalp several times, only leaving that little rat tail.
We'd join together usually around three. We'd chat, enjoy
ourselves. I'd make lunch. She'd behave coquettishly. Gray-blue eyes, curious nose, ruddy cheeks... Tomorrow my lawyer Sergei Belyak will lead her to a press conference where she'll announce, with Belyak and Genrikh Padva by her side, that she's "The common-law
wife of Edward Limonov." Together they'll present my book The Hunt for Anatoly Bykov" the very same book that I wrote while with her on the shores of the Yesenei.
She's 19 years old and it's not easy for her. She's
the youngest "grass widow" in Russian literature. Her man, looking like a Spanish grandee and captain Nemo, is sitting in jail
----- ----- ----- -----
THE NORTH SEA - AMSTERDAM
When you go from France to Holland by train, you might wind up losing your respect for the Wermacht's exploits, occupying European countries in days or weeks. Everything there is so boring. Everything is so small!
I had just popped open a bottle of beer, and suddenly the freshly painted, intolerable Belgium is knocking by with its own French-style stations. Knock, knock, "The Hague" or something like that, "Brussels." You've got enough time to notice that the same international
conglomerates trumpet their wares here as they do in France.
Belgium is basically geographical nonsense; in one part of the province they speak French, the other Flemish, and that seems to be a Dutch dialect. In
Belgium, the French established its royalty almost on the nose of the twentieth century. Next to the Place de la Concorde, on the Seine, there's a monument to Belgian King Albert I in a long French robe.
Belgium, I opened the second bottle of beer, and it knocks around right by a Dutch platform. Holland, in fact, is just a cement dyke connecting France and Germany. 20 million skinny ascetic divider-men and round-assed white-skinned women live along that dyke.
The Dutch have long words, just like the Estonians and Finns.
My publisher's publishing house -- the publisher was Jos Kut -- was called "Wereldbliioteek" or something like that, I remember meeting those doubled-up
letters not just two or three times. The train to Amsterdam goes through flat despondent houses, parking lots, and the countryside reminiscent of a field, some sort of hummock. And that is Holland -- a land of fields. There are all these identifying names
on white hanging boards above the platforms in a blue font: "Harlem" for example, and we even recognize "Amsterdam" that way. New York at the very beginning of its existence was called New Amsterdam.
by. A depraved pimply girl is constantly licking her lips, a brazen red skinned Indonesian is chewing his gum frantically and looking at the pimply Dutch girl at her right where, under the fabric of her skirt, her sex crack is. A gray elongated man next to
the one with red skin is looking over as well, but he is judging the girl and the red skin by the silence of their copulation. And I'm going to my publisher.
Their villages are careful as a plank; they repeat the
figure of a statistically average Dutch. I pondered and observed all of this -- that's how I traveled.
Amsterdam's train station is disgusting. Gypsies, children, wind, dust, cups from McDonald's, empty cans --
why so much filth? Respectable people travel through airports? Reassuring posters for an exhibition -- a van Gogh retrospective -- steamed over everything. Vincent with a cut-off ear.
On my second arrival on December
6, 1990, I went to search for Amsterdam's port.
"There is no port, Edward!" Jos Kut sadly informed me.
I didn't believe him. There is a Brel song "To the port of Amsterdam!
To the port of Amsterdam!" about a poor abandoned sailor -- in short, it's a great song. And in those years I felt myself to be a poor abandoned sailor because I wore a pea coat -- those were the years of the pea coat -- and I felt myself abandoned.
I felt myself abandoned because at that time my love with Natasha died -- stretched, tortured, slowly and with languorous and foul joy. I left her myself, straight ahead into the black hole of war and revolution. I couldn't
keep my balance, it was difficult for me; there was that temptation.
I born for war and revolution -- wasn't I? -- and they hadn't happened. And I took off with a joyous smile only when I was 48-years-old, straight-ahead,
into war and revolution, to their needle's eye of death.
And at Natasha's, there were only female organs. And all that she was able to do was to lower herself with some rogue. That's what she did. And I returned
from war and imagined myself an unhappy sailor, and all the pipes, all the flutes and drums of Brel sounded to me in my ears when I left the next day from the clean hostel room, already drunk and going to search for the Port d'Amsterdam...
"Dans le Port d'Amsterdam... Dans le Port d'Amsterdam"... It was necessary to turn my speech to the station and there carefully ask in English, "How can I find a seaport?" to a couple of kids. They didn't hesitate to point me to the
right. It was cold. It was very cold and dry, and even though the North Sea had not even appeared -- just walls and behind them factory-like buildings -- even then it, the North Sea, hung around me, dry, stuck on my hair, neck, ears, and forehead.
"Bitch, drunken slut," I swore through clenched teeth. And remembering how only yesterday (or the day before?), when arriving from America, I didn't find my wife at home. (I know, I know, I have already written about this,
but I want to write more! More!) I went into the kitchen and there, strewn on the table were plates, utensils, napkins. Cigarettes in the ashtray. Two plates, two wine glasses. And why did I decide that it was a man with her? I didn't even see her, she didn't
return. I lay down still dressed on the stagnant sheets, drank a bottle of wine I had brought and hid in a hot dream. In the dream I saw the slit of our kitchen again, the table spices, butts in the ashtray, her and him...
That morning I got up and went to North Station and sat on the train to Amsterdam. That was what my publisher and I had agreed upon. The ticket was already lying in my desk drawer before I flew to the United States. I had many responsibilities, many
publishers... Bitch! Trash! Cunt. She knew that I would be leaving for Amsterdam on that hour. I discovered the North Sea.
In the confused folds of a concrete blanket I saw the gray water. There was a dock, building
a ship on the water. On the deck they were sawing a beam. Under the folds of the concrete blanket bums sat in blankets. Between them were two flinching sluts and a red skinned Indonesian, and they drank something from two bottles.
I met a barrel-chested gray-haired man -- not quite a sailor or a construction worker. Rubbing his hands (the wind was blowing stronger), he explained that all of Holland is a port -- from Rotterdam to Amsterdam.
"Polish?" he asked me.
"Yes, Polish," I answered dishonestly.
I returned to Amsterdam, passing by a huge floating Chinese restaurant that only had two cars parked
in the lot in front. Yes, Polish.
-------- ------ ------ -------
THE MOSCOW RIVER
In September 1997 the National Bolshevik Party completed a union with Anpilov
and Terekhov. We signed a three-sided agreement that we would run in the elections in December 1999 together and we would hold all kinds of political actions as a united block together, including demonstrations. We signed the agreement in my office in the
Bunker, and at that point I suggested that the new block be called "The Front of Working People, the Army and Youth. "We adopted the name temporarily. We sewed a long red banner.
Alexander Dugin started excessively
lauding in every FTN article how only Dugin was able to do that. I started to organize my own people and take them onto the streets with Anpilov's people. At the big gatherings, we would get together at Oktyabrskaya Metro at 8:30 near the Lenin statue.
Our flags were visible from afar. Journalists ran to us in waves. Around 9 o'clock, I began to draw up the column. In front I placed our red standard on two poles with "National Bolshevik Party " written on it and the image
of the Limonka grenade in the center. That same image is on the Limonka newspaper and my left bicep.
Dividing into ranks, party members lined up behind the entire length of the standard. They carried slogans between
the ranks:"We hate the government!", the Party's credo:"Russia is everything! Everything else is nothing!", "Capitalism is crap!", "Eat the rich!" We had an entire assortment, plus slogans tailored to the day:say, on February 23, 2000, we carried the slogans
"Down with the autocracy and the succession to the throne!" and "Putin, we didn't invite you;get out!"
While we were still gathering, I roused the boys, addressed them through a megaphone, explaining what was happening
today in politics. I joked and started to ignite them.
"Clear your throats!" I yelled.. "It's time!All right, let's go:A good bourgeois is a dead bourgeois!A good bourgeois is a dead bourgeois! It's weak!Louder!Unite!Open
your mouths!More fiercely!Exert yourselves! Capitalism is crap!Capitalism is crap!"
They caught fire step by step. Anpilov appeared and met me, "Greetings to the great Party of National Bolsheviks!"
Colonel Terekhov came up, simple babushkas and dedushkas approached us, pensioners, simple people. For a long time our flag challenged their suspicions:"Do you know that your flag is similar to. . . "
"We know, " we said. . "All flags are alike: there are only a few basic colors, we can't make ourselves a flag out of quilt scraps. "
"Yes, but the older generation under- stands that flag
as. . . "
"It will soon be dead, your generation. " That's how our conversations went. Then they got used to us. And when the first prisoners, the first inmates appeared among us, they respected us.
The coldest was February 23. But the march route was usually short, not from Oktyabrskaya, and each time the powers that be cut off a piece of the march route. If we had gathered initially at Belorussky, then later on it was
at Mayakovskaya and in 2000 already at Pushkin Square.
We generally went from Oktyabrskaya on November 7 and May 1. The march route went up Yakimanka, past the French embassy building, further to the bridge and
across the canal of the Moscow River, turn- ing to the right along the canal to Bolotnaya Square, exiting onto the large bridge across the Moscow River and from there onto Vasilevsky Spusk -- towards the rear part of St. Basil's Cathedral, where an ordinary
meeting would be held.
The coldest time on that march route was the Seventh of November. But the boys liked it. One time there was a wild snowstorm after which my sheepskin coat couldn't dry out for a week.
A passionate struggle against the elements was added that day to the passionate politi- cal one and, because of that, the procession was particularly successful. They still remember it up until the present.
departed from our place at 9:30. Working Russia spread out salt, walking disorderly, however they could. Anpilov was barely able to pronounce the first two or three slogans. We usually walked at the tail of the demonstration.
Ownerless red youth, party-less punks, the leftovers of the anarchists came to us (in front of our personnel and sympathizers). Our column was strikingly young, energetic.
Our style was strikingly new for
our country, and for any other. Not a second without shouts, we used those cries : like when everyone switched to running practically in place with the loud cries. It was the defeatists and passersby and our partners.
And our shouts were paradoxical. Their authorship was often the collective. If I thought up, "We hate the government!", then the masses in the column would shout, "For our old men -- we'll cut off ears!" I walked and said through the megaphone that
they tempted and beckoned me from the column. Now one of the boys relieved me or maybe there were several megaphones. Fresh young faces, shouts, enthusi- asm, laughter, measured steps. It was a joy to look at us and our flags over us.
My despondent colleagues from the literary set -- even the best of them -- obtusely didn't understand and do not understand how much my invasion into war, and therefore into politics, has widened my potential.
The new aesthetic consists of that, which is to speed through a burning city in an armored personnel carrier surrounded by young beasts with machine guns. The new aesthetic consists of that, which is to march on a bridge across the Moscow River, approaching
the Kremlin, to stamp and rhythmically outrage, "Re-vo-lution!Re-vo-lution!"
The most passionate collisions of the '90's in Russia were political. I was part of the street clashes with the OMON in Moscow on February
23 1992, I crawled away from the rain of bullets at Ostankino in 1993, I placed my skin in the planet's hotspots, and my dull colleagues don't understand : for what? They went to the buffet at TsDL [Writers Association], and the most active of them
attended vulgar festivals and TV shows.
I instinctively, with my dog's nostrils, understood that of all the topics in the world, War and Women (sluts and soldiers) are the most important. And I also understand
that the most modern genre is biography. So that is the path I have walked. My books are my biography : a series of ZhZL.
My banal colleagues never were able to understand that I have a heroic temperament. For
a long time they called me "scandalous, " wrote of my certain sharp calculation, suspected me of the sins of self-promotion and vanity. There are tens of books written about me, one stupider and more envious than the next. The last one that I flipped through
was a book by some Dashkova, and I've forgotten the title.
I passionately enjoyed going over the bridge to the Kremlin over the Moscow River in front of a column, under our amazing, ardent, bloodied signs. I was
happy to the point of dizziness to lie under fire on the Vereschagin hill and to feel the taste of a tangerine section in my mouth -- a freshly picked tangerine -- that could be my last in life.
This is the way
I always wanted to live: relishing, risking, vivid. Now jail and the status of a political prisoner make me incontro- vertible, they've cast me in bronze. Who can turn my honesty and tragedy against me now?
seems like there is that type. But even death would not convince them.
Where in all of that is the Moscow River? On the Seventh of November she was normally, palely steaming, her awful, freezing water under the
bridge rising into the sky. Crammed with shit and pierced with tributary streams of hot sewage. Glancing along her, it was possible to see the merchant donated Church of Christ the Savior, the idiotic Nutcracker-Peter of Tsereteli's, the vile, unnatural water.
The Moscow River will not get aroused for anything, it will not winnow any feelings. It is a strange cemetery of dead water in the middle of the city, lying along the sloppy gray shores. Like dangerous mercury.
----- ----- ----- ----- -----
POND IN KHARKOV
Up above, along the green and bald slope, we all lay uncomfortably wherever we fell; girls, parents, guys. Down below, ringed with planks, a diving board and
paths, lay the pond. A chain link fence that wasn't quite parallel to the water bordered it. The fence's links were broken in several places so that, by stepping across the asphalt path fringing the pond's perimeter, people could climb through the holes and
dive into the brown water. Many trees lay scattered up above, beyond the fence. That's why the water looked brown -- the higher ground over the pond was always in shadow.
Details always impressed me as a kid; I
remember how hundreds and thousands of little fish and tadpoles swam and poked about. The water teemed with minute fish, and dragonflies, bugs, mosquitos and all sorts of reeds lay on top of the water.
in those days -- and now, as well -- weren't in shape, my father included. I remember how my father swam, grunting through the water in a black bathing suit and pattern baldness. My mother shyly flailed in her suit; our neighbors entered the water with shrieks.
It's as if slides of these moments are projected on the wall of my cell.
It should be explained that the pond was built near a mineral-water spring. There was a pipe sticking out of a cliff and caravans of baptized
people would head to it in the summer evenings with cans and canteens. It was built in this bit of country where nothing much ever happened. They burrowed and excavated with bulldozers. Then the place suddenly bottomed out all by itself. The path collapsed
over an old Jewish cemetery, down to the level of Tyurenka's first houses, and then fell again even lower. People from Tyurenka radiated pride over their Swiss lake, right in the middle of the steppe-like landscape. And they guarded it against any outsiders.
They wanted to control their Riviera, their paupers' Switzerland. On the next block, just past the diving board, lived the ruler of Tyurenka in that era (1955-1960), a thick-bearded guy called Tuz or Tuzik.
also lived in Tyurenka. If you were a newcomer, they'd call you out -- or you'd call them -- just about every day. Every time a challenge. This gypsy named Kolya was always fucking with me. One time he put on my blue t-shirt and wouldn't give it back. He left
with a crowd of people, still wearing my shirt. I didn't catch up with him till next summer. He was short and stocky, thick arms and legs. But I was already smarter than he was. I was 13; I grabbed him and told him that he'd worn my shirt last summer, and
this summer I wanted it back. Or I'd tear off the ragged shirt he was wearing. This shirt was not Soviet and had been dyed by hand; Kolya the gypsy had almost definitely stolen it, probably at the city beach.
the hell?" he began doubtfully. He braced his legs, knitted his brow and flexed his chest. Kids grow up quickly. But I was smarter than him.
"Sanya," I called, "Come over here, alright? Something's up. There's
been a little disagreement."
Red Sanya -- 19-years-old, 90 kilograms, thick-veined, with a turban made out of a towel and a skull ring on his middle finger -- came over. Over the winter I'd gotten close to him.
I had even gone over to his place; Sanya's, Auntie Elza and Svetka's. I was like Sanya's younger brother, his aide-de-camp, his accomplice (we had somehow been brought in for this one caper -- not worth a dime -- and released). Sanya came over. He had another
ring, made of fused metal. I admired the way those rings reflected the sun. He butted the gypsy with his confident, gangster's belly. The gypsy, clearly frightened, took off his shirt and handed it to me. After that, the Tyurenka gypsies always greeted me.
They went back to ignoring me when Sanya was sentenced to three years.
I clearly remember the first vision, my first apparition of a pond. I remember all the ants, dragonflies, bees, wasps, bugs, mosquitos, tiny
fish, a horde of insects stinging us on the steep slopes of the hill leading to the pond. They stung me in the 50's; other insects stung me in other reservoirs in the 60's. I didn't learn to swim in a pond, though. An electrician, dyadya Sasha Chepiga -- dust
to dust -- taught me to swim in the tiny Old Saltov River, which was only about ten meters wide. Cows and goats grazed along its banks, which were even more thickly littered with cow pies and black goat turds than that pond's modest, bald shore had been.
If I had the chance to go to the shore of that miserable pond now, it would seem to me a petty, nasty, plain, pitiful undersized Russian reservoir. But when you haven't grown up yet and stand next to your father, only as tall
as his chest, then the whole amphitheater, the pond swarming with sunbathers, seems glorious. The water pouring from the green pipe, the birds and people shouting. It's odd, but only now, after a half-century of turbulent life, have I found my place. If it
weren't for me, who the hell in all of Russia would notice that miserable pond? Two-thirds of the people who were pissing in its water, mating in the nearby bushes, flirting, sweating, screwing drunk on the grass, stealing pants and sheets from their neighbors
are dead. No, not just two-thirds--three-quarters or four-fifths! All the young girls who dipped their thighs, chests and pussies into the water swarming with little fish--some are dead, rotting in their graves, and those who are still alive are bloated toads.
Confront your fate, I shout at this old nation: fuck all your mothers anway--who are you? None of you matter any more than the little fish in that stagnant pond, as you float down the sewer of life. Only the strange boy in the bathing suit who is looking at
you counts. And to make sure he notices you, lift up your gaze from the fish, tritons and tadpoles. If he doesn't notice you, then you don't exist.
(The book of