Stranger at the Door: Writers and the Act of Writing
And his house is right there, see? Run, they are open till six. You will still make it.
Putin is right: a miracle is what Russia often needed to save its cultural memory from destruction. Or take the subway—literally, if you wish to be stunned by its marble, bronze and mosaics—or figuratively, if looking for Russian writers in Moscow underground is your quest of the day.
There are Pushkin, Turgenev, Chekhov and Dostoevsky stations—the latter, designed as a series of black-and-white granite pages illustrated with scenes from Crime and Punishment , The Idiot , Brothers Karamazov and The Devils.
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The station itself features stainless steel arches and red rhodonite inlays—the kind of Stalinist Art Deco that would inspire Rockefeller Center-obsessed Americans to give its designers the grand prix at the World Fair in New York. Next to Mayakovsky is Tverskaya station. Sick of looking at the underground abodes of dead writers in the center of the city? Then move to its outskirts. Decorated with red, orange, yellow and lime-green triangles and massive mirror panels, it defies expectations of literature lovers. Recently, however, Moscow subway designers seem to have lost their attention to poetic detail.
A writer is a writer is a writer. A subway, a vehicle for moving from one corner of the city to another. And where, if I may ask, shall we start? You can also hear hissing and crackling sounds coming out of nowhere—the place is chock-full of projectors.
A public library on the second floor features portraits of Tolstoy and many other people who surrounded Gogol in , when he kicked the bucket. Oh, no, you mean the other Tolstoy, Leo. Lev Nikolayevich, also a count. Moscow is honoring him with two museums: one in a modest wooden house in the Khamovniki district, near metro stop Park Kultury, where the author of War and Peace reluctantly spent the winter months of — so that his teenage children could romp around in high society; and another, in a much more imposing stone mansion in Prechistenka Street, where Tolstoy never lived metro stop Kropotkinskaya.
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In , however, when the museum was founded, the big windows were broken, the floors were burned and the walls were soiled by the first non-aristocratic tenants of the Classicist villa—the Red Army personnel and their families. He jumped at the prospect because the house in Prechistenka had a vault with indestructible walls and a heavy metal door. This is why they are possibly the only literary memorials in Russia spared during the early post-revolutionary years of nationalization and destruction.
If you decide to venture out to Yasnaya Polyana by car or by train, look out for a behemoth leather couch in the memorial study. Tolstoy was born on it, and so were most of his children.
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His manuscripts were kept inside its drawers. State violence. Two great wars. Desktops cracked and dilapidated, slippers and house robes crumbled to dust, pens rolled behind the floorboards and crushed underneath, bookshelves burned, taking whole libraries along with them. For most of us, this is not a problem, but for curators of Russian literary museums, authenticity spells legitimacy. They are desperate to furnish memorial spaces with authentic objects and, when not available, all kinds of simulacra.
Memory is obviously preserved here, albeit on metonymic and metaphorical terms. The wondrous creativity surge Pushkin experienced in the fall of in the village of Boldino is marked by an array of fake, hand-copied manuscript pages cascading onto a visitor from the top of a Niagara Falls-like vitrine. I saw them as very separate entities, and when I say separate entities, I mean I saw one as better than the other. I feel very differently about that now. Categorizing stories into genres is mainly done for marketing purposes. Who is the audience?
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What are they looking for? But there is really so much overlap. We find magical realism in literary fiction, as well as fantasy and sci-fi and romance, and of course thriller-type plots. Rougarou: What advice do you have for writers — like friends of mine whose first books are about to be published — who are on the precipice of greater exposure?
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How have you managed to stay free and bold and vulnerable in your writing while withstanding the pressures and anxieties of being seen? DR: This is a very important topic that is close to my heart.
I feel a kinship with her. Everything outside of the work is just hullabaloo. And as of this summer, I will become an independent bookstore owner, taking over my local bookstore on the coast where I live in Oregon. She has also authored two popular thrillers under the pen name Audrey Braun. She teaches creative writing at workshops around the U. She lives on the coast of Oregon. Rougarou, a Journal of Arts and Literature, aims to publish an eclectic, resonant selection of creative writing by emerging and established writers.
Founded in by the faculty and graduate students of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Rougarou is published biannually, with active columns updated regularly.
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About Rougarou Rougarou, a Journal of Arts and Literature, aims to publish an eclectic, resonant selection of creative writing by emerging and established writers. Social Media.