КАК: На самолетах. Из Айова-сити в Чикаго – поеду на машине (примерно 400 километров).
ЗАЧЕМ: По приглашению университета Айовы и при финансовой поддержке Библиотеки Конгресса США приму участие в мероприятиях международной писательской программы.
ПРИЧИНА: Переведен на английский и опубликован в книге издательства TinHouse «Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia» (перевод Константина Гессена) мой рассказ «Шестая дорожка Бреговича», впервые напечатанный всё в том же российском журнале Esquire (сентябрь, 2007). 21 сентября в Нью-Йорке, в 19.00, в кафе при книжном магазине «Housing Works Bookstore» состоится презентация этой книги. Адрес: 126 Crosby Street. Буду там.
ЕЩЕ: Помимо презентации книги в Нью-Йорке – в американских городах и предместьях запланировано множество связанных со славистикой мероприятий, о которых буду писать в журнал оттуда, когда рядом случится инет. Спасибо маститому блогеру и просто скромному пареньку Диме Данилову ddanilov за содействие в оформлении документов и налаживании метафизического коннекта. Привет тамошним френдам!
Вот этот мой рассказ:
Bregovich's Sixth Journey
It's February, late at night, in a little village outside Moscow called Lestvino. My headlights are shining on Ivan Denisovich. I've boiled him a pot of pelmeni. Sensing the presence of food, he flings himself happily inside his little doghouse, rattles his chain, and jumps back out again. His eyes are lit with a hungry green flame.
I keep the engine running so the battery doesn't die; there's no one around now to steal the car. Under the gaze of my headlights I walk toward Ivan Denisovich with my pot of pelmeni. Steam rolls off them in the cold and before I reach him I put the pot down in the snow--let it cool down a little.
Ivan Denisovich's master, my neighbor Andryukha, doesn't feed him very often. He never lets him inside the house, even when it's cold, even when it's very cold. And he always keeps him on his chain, because Ivan Denisovich might run away.
He's straining toward my pot, snapping his little jaws. The pelmeni cool down finally and I bring him the pot. Ivan Denisovich holds it with his paws and gobbles them down. Once in a while he takes a break and looks up gratefully at me.
My neighbor named him Mukhtar--a famous name, but strange and homeless. One time I thought I saw barbed wire strung around his doghouse, with little guard towers standing around it. That would finally make the space between the house and the shed, where ID's doghouse sits, into a little one-dog prison camp.
And so I started calling Ivan Denisovich Ivan Denisovich, in honor of the famous prisoner. He answers to that name now.
This winter I've been feeding him regularly. Almost every weekend I boil him pelmeni, macaroni, sometimes I spoil him with fish. Ivan Denisovich has grown fond of me.
I almost never see his owner because I arrive from Moscow late on Friday or Saturday night--times when Andryukha, a drinking man, is sleeping it off.
Andryukha lives here year-round. He's getting on in years and has no family--unless of course you count Ivan Denisovich. But, no: Andryukha couldn't have decided to become both a family member of the prisoner and his warden simultaneously. That would have been too subtle. And he doesn't treat him like family at all.
My dacha is at the edge of the village, the homes here are all privately owned, mostly summer residences--and on the other side of the ravine you can see the center of town with its gray prefab five-stories. I come here to work. It's comfortable, I've gradually brought over a good library, it's quiet. I bring my laptop with me.
I've gotten Ivan Denisovich into music. That is, to a single work of a single artist. He doesn't care for the other songs on the disc. Just as he doesn't care for all other music in general.
Now he's done eating and he expects some entertainment. I open my trunk so he can better hear the rear speakers and sub-woofer. I find the Bregovich disc in the glove compartment, slide it in the player. I flip to song number 6 and turn up the volume.
It opens with a saxophone solo; then the percussion kicks in. A Balkan sadness, magnificently arranged, pours from the trunk of my car. Then Bregovich begins to sing. Ivan Denisovich is ecstatic. He rolls in the snow next to his little hut and I think he's singing along. It's just like the first time I played Bregovich for him, back in the fall. What happens in his soul during the performance of song number 6--what makes him roll over and howl--I don't know.
The Bregovich disc is a multitrack, which means the recording isn't compressed, it's done properly, and each song stands on its own, is its own journey. I borrowed the disc from a friend--her former roommate was an audio pirate and left her a lot of good stuff.
I have a good sound system in my car: Two amplifiers, a large subwoofer. The rear speakers are on an acoustic shelf, the front ones are on a podium, an expensive Magnitola. The wiring is good. It took me a long time and lots of love to set it up. When I pull up to my house in Moscow I turn the volume down, so the local hooligans don't decide to have a listen for themselves.
Right now, in this village, when there's no one in the houses around me, I turn it up as loud as it will go.
But then suddenly Andrei's porch lights up. And Andrei emerges--pale, in a T-shirt and thermals. He's dead drunk, the way he only gets in winter. I thought Bregovich couldn't wake him.
I turn the music off. Ivan Denisovich stops rolling around in the snow, sits down, and stares at his owner, his tongue hanging out.
It's quiet. You can hear Ivan Denisovich's quick breathing.
"Hey fuckface," Andrei says to him. "Get back in your hut."
Rattling his chain, Ivan Denisovich obeys.
Andryukha turns his crumpled head to me.
"Turn the lights off for chrissake! I'm trying to sleep."
I kill the lights, turn off the engine, lock the door, and go inside.
Tonight I need to study something called "Russian Literature of the 20th Century." I'll be administering an exam to that effect to first-years on Wednesday. I find it hard to study this stuff because it's so close to me, it's where I live in a way. The further you go back in the century, the simpler it is, everything's in its place, whereas here--here you're drinking a beer with some poet who became known at the end of the 20th century, and it's hard to tell: Is this a genuinely canonical writer, or is it a pathetic asshole who last week took a swing at his young wife and broke her nose?
But with the dead--it's all good. And so, setting myself up in the kitchen under the lamp, turning my laptop on, I divide the writers into the living and the dead, and begin with the dead.
From half past one until three I work on the dead poets. I have a good biographical dictionary on CD-ROM. Things are moving along. The dead: They're like family to me. Take Tarkovsky, take Pasternak. There's no place I'd rather drink a Crimean red with a girl than at Pasternak's grave. And if you walk from his grave, about 20 meters south, the leaves rustling under your feet, there, hidden behind some bushes--is the marble monument over Tarkovsky. You can press yourself against the tile, you can dance around, whatever you like.
Some kind of boundless doggie spiritual gratitude was spilled onto me during the feeding of Ivan Denisovich, and I sat down at my laptop and books with an especially clear conscience and sturdy will, like a simple soldier just back from the front in 1945, taking a seat at his first university lecture. But for that same reason Ivan Denisovich kept circling through my thoughts as I tried to learn and memorize those texts and dates. He kept silently arguing with my dead authors, disconcerting them by his very appearance. I imagined the poet Simonov, for example, buying a fur coat for his wife at the department store in the early 1960s, and there, in the fur, he discovers Ivan Denisovich's staring eyes. They express nothing but the desire to eat cheap chicken pelmeni; there's no judgment in those eyes, no anger, but nonetheless everyone feels ashamed--the poet, his wife, the shopgirls. And I of course feel terrible.
From three until four in the morning I work on the living poets. It turns out Ivan Denisovich has his paws on the living, too. I've always thought of Benzheev and Kibirov together, like two paragliders working in tandem. There they are, a pair of asocial poets floating above the regime, neither of them caring that down below they're being barked at by little Ivan Denisoviches in trenchcoats, who only trouble those who walk along the earth. For example, the village poets: the ones whose sons serve in the army, whose daughters get seduced by punk rockers, whose wives try to breed puppies in their homes.
At four in the morning I warm up some bologna on a pan. It's good bologna, "Doctor's Bologna," no fillings. I eat it. Now I need to study the novelists. It's easier with novelists. They don't worry about turning their lives into works of art the way poets do. You can be the biggest lout in the world and it won't affect your novels very much at all.
The best work of the dead novelist Vladimov is filled with the ancient enemies of Ivan Denisovich--dogs who guard prisoners.
The living novelist Senchin has a wandering dog's view of the world. I saw him recently. He's tired of his wife but has nowhwere to go.
I finish with the novelists near morning. It's time for a break. I should read something else.
I brought along a new literary almanac that someone gave me as a gift. But I'm not going to read that. It's terrible. I don't even know why I brought it. Maybe out of some indomitable hope for a better life, one in which I read these things. But I don't like the new almanacs. The very word sounds musty and stiff. If it weren't for the inscription inside it from a good friend, I'd have thrown it in the stove by now.
When you come here during the cold months, you need to feed the stove once, after which the electric radiators keep the temperature up.
It's light out now, time to get back to Moscow. I'll sleep there.
I put my laptop in my bag, gather my books. I unsettle the dacha, flip the electricity off in the front hall. Close the door. Turn on the ignition in my car, warm up the engine. An old lady walks by on the street. Ivan Denisovich barks at her. On the old lady's dark face: a look of boredom and concern.
I began to wonder about the old lady--about whether she'd outlived her old man, what her name was, and then I began to wonder about a different old man, a writer, the father of the most important Ivan Denisovich in our literature. Not long ago I wanted to meet him, talk to him. But then I learned this was impossible. He lives far from the city, doesn't accept any guests. I considered taking an unofficial route, that is climbing over his fence and approaching the house to ask for his blessing. But then I learned that this dacha is guarded like a prison camp--that the fence has barbed wire over it, and in the yard he has guards. In other words, Solzhenitsyn has imprisoned himself voluntarily.
I began to feel sorry for him, and for all the prisoners of our homeland, and even a little sorry for myself, though I was never in prison. And another wave of pity swept over me when I saw that old lady.
I get out of the car and let Ivan Denisovich off his chain.
Let a new music play the tune of the fate of Ivan Denisovich. Let him study in the halls of new grass-covered universities. His sentence is over. And now he roams through the great spaces of our homeland. That is, at first he ran along the fence, past the electric post and the store, and then, when he grew tired, he began to walk.