Enjoyable Hours (Answers)

A few days ago I posed three questions. Here are my answers:

1. It depends on what he means by ‘low point’. Turgidovsky’s fiction is deliberately depressing; in one sense, therefore, his novels are as ‘low’ as novels can get. If it is a question of quality, however, one must disagree with the critic in question. Turgidovsky may be an embittered misanthrope with a heart of coal, but he wields a semi-colon with the confidence of a classical master.

For all this, my experience of Andrey Torg suggests that to take him seriously is to wilfully waste the time of the world and oneself. Hyperbole is his plaything: he means not what he says, because he knows not what he means.

2. A title is just a title – or is it? A wise man once said that if a title is the front door of a book, than a clever reader ought to enter via the first-floor window. On top of this, I find that many titles suffer greatly in translation. In Spanish it may seem like a sensible idea to put a fruit in a title of a novel; in English it strikes one as desperate. There was a trend, once; a time in which the sounds chimed brightly. Now I only have to see the word ‘mango’ or ‘apricot’ in a book title to walk the other way.

3. There remains something of a difference of opinion over whether Yevgony Nonik ever existed, let alone when he died. I maintain, nevertheless, that I was either a.) in the bath, b.) reading a book or c.) engaging in a spot of illegal elvering.


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