Until recently, I was content thinking of Russian writer-turned-politician Eduard Limonov, a founder of Russia's National Bolshevik Party, as just another strange puzzling figure on the murky Russian political landscape.
Then I stumbled upon an article in my morning-off internet perusal spree that made me cautiously curious about the writer part of his image¹ (since the political part makes me really try to do a one-eyebrow raise, and I'm horrible at that).
The aforementioned article, if you're interested: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/05/16/dirty-words-russian-girls-cant-say-on-the-internet/
And so I started (and, honestly, ended) my literary acquaintance with Limonov through his first novel It's Me, Eddie, a cynical memoir (or at least a memoir-ized work of fiction) of young Limonov's life in New York after leaving Soviet Union in the mid-1970s.
Let's see if I can summarize:
(1) a rambling story of a pretentious, cynical, angry and quite passive young man (a poet, by the way) full of disillusionment and bitterness...
(2) ...feeling lost in a new country that is not fitting his sensitive artsy personality;
(3) pathetically and creepily obsessed with the wife who left him;
(4) a man high on misogyny, full of feelings of exaggerated superiority over everyone and anyone while at the same time battling insecurity, depression and anger;
(5) casually experimenting with homosexuality while dwelling on the images of the aforementioned ex-wife;
(6) with a dab of not atypical Russian antisemitism, quite repulsive attitudes towards women, and feeling that however down he may be, the world still remains beneath him and his amazing nature;
(7) constantly dwelling on some aspect of his presumed moral/ethical/whatever cynical superiority ...
(8) ... all while he has deep feelings of resentment for the way his new country is treating his special snowflakeness.
(9) All this, by the way, is on the background of fully typed out frequent obscenities - not that common in Russian literature where they frequently would be spelled to the equivalent of f--k or m****r-f****r.
(10) Oh, and a few candid descriptions of sex.
No, I did not like Limonov's book. Yes, the only feelings it evoked in me was bored irritation and frequent checking of how much longer until the end of it. Limonov's protagonist was simply irritating (reading his thoughts was similar to imagining the screeching sounds the nails make on a chalkboard, if I have to compare it to anything), and sex and obscenities alone are not enough to sustain attention of this freely-swearing gynecologist.
On the other hand, misogyny, self-pity mixed with self-entitlement, and constant whining and bile were grating on my nerves in a very unsettling fashion.The intended message of this book, as far as I can even find one, is that because the world sucks it's okay to be an asshole bitching about unfairness in the most pretentious fashion one can imagine. If the intent was to shock the reader, it failed with me. If the intent was to sigh in relief that this very "meh" book has ended, then it served its purpose.
From now on, I'm content with occasionally seeing mentions of Limonov in Russian political news (since Russian politics can often be a neverending source of black humor) and to stay way from his literary efforts. 1 exasperated star.