My Life as a Russian Novel by Emmanuel Carrère
Posted: June 3, 2012 Filed under: Books, Documentary, Non-fiction | Tags: Books, Emmanuel Carrère, English, Limonov
In anticipation of the upcoming translation (I hope) of Carrère's recently published and acclaimed Limonov book, I have picked up his Un Roman Russe to try. Unexpectedly, it was a real page turner, a memoir (unless he lies) depicting a few years of his life – last page finished near 2:30am in the morning, my poor kindle afraid of the bubbling bathtub.
Covers three subjects, predominantly.
Firstly, his vertiginous relationship with his partner Sophie, a true Santa Barbara styled saga of sorts with such unexpected twists and ambushes that one can't but suspects a pinch of fiction spicing up real events. I googled Le Monde story – you would too. Also, the beginning of the book especially, I couldn't but compare it to Limonov's Taming the Tiger in Paris, the book I adore. That Sophie theme, I felt, as key to the book.
Two, Carrère's multiple trips to a small Russian lost-in-the-middle-of-nowhere town of Kotelnich to shoot two movies – a TV piece about WWII Hungarian PoW discovered there in 00s, held over 50 years in a mental asylum for no reason, and subsequently, to shoot a documentary about the city and its people, Retour à Kotelnitch
, a movie I now urgently need to watch. Judging by the book, and as the Russian saying goes, начали за здравие, закончили за упокой
(started drinking for health, ended up drinking for dead) – I guess Russian reality gave a much bigger twist of the unexpected than his Parisienne Santa Barbara.
Well, and three – the story of his grandfather, a Georgian emigre in France, shot dead as Fascist collaborator in 1944 by the French resistance – his childhood, youth and exile from Georgia. The most boring bit, if you ask me.
All in all, an unexpected good read.