Жунгли (The Jungle) Yuri Buyda

***

That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third,
Were axioms to them, who’d never heard
Of any world where promises were kept,
Or one could weep because another wept.

Looks like Auden managed to prophesy a fairly accurate review for this latest book by Yuri Buyda, best known I think for The Prussian Bride (which I enjoyed).  This book consists of a series of interlinked stories, so that a minor character in one becomes the protagonist of another.  The action takes place beyond the outskirts of Moscow, in a region where places have evocative names like Nerwbuild and the girls make some money by appearing in pornographic films shot  in a place called The Factory.  The most popular storyline involves the woman who is left alone with a daughter; then a new man appears and rapes the daughter.  By way of variation, there is one case where the new man takes the guilt on himself after the adopted son has raped and killed the daughter.  But again the nephew who has been taken into the family will do just as well.  And the daughter can also kill the mother and lay the blame on the stepfather.

For some time, there was a tendency for supernatural elements to become increasingly apparent from story to story, so I rather hoped there was going to be some kind of transfiguration.  But no.  The nearest was the trans-sense poem from At the knacker’s yard, kindly translated by Google at the end of this posting.

The problem with the book is that it all gets rather same-y and you don’t have any contrast. In The Prussian Bride, you had the contrast between the German and Russian ways of life in the Kaliningrad Oblast’, and that worked very well.

But it’s better than I’m probably making it sound here, and you certainly want to read on even though you rather dread what might be coming.  There are moments of grim, humour, as when the short, fat, bald seducer and utterer of forged banknotes Goribaba is apprehended thanks to his shiny Margaret Thatcher tie…

Те ан комали, лютер вертерог-
Those en coma, Luther verterog –

Гумер аморе, лав – те ан комали.
Gumer Amor, My Love – those en coma.

Но миролохи – те не паллонай ли,
But mirolohi – those not pallonay Do

Когда и бехер адорате рох.
When and Becher adorate Fox.

Лютеллия!
Lyutelliya!

А вулли аберрок?
A Woolley aberrok?

Не филио, не мув и не опали,
Not filio, not MSY and not fallen,

Не без отеро, нежная афалли,
Not without Otero, gentle afalli,

О куннилингус!
About cunnilingus!
Стелла аннобох,
Stella annoboh,

Но тристия, те глосса и улла,
But three hundred, and they gloss ulla,

Те ан амиле, са не тор у края,
Those en amyl, self is not a torus at the edge,

Коль отто фил, то эстер те фулла.
Col Phil Otto, the ester those Fulla.

Не питто фаллос, номо, эт кормляю,
Pitta is not the phallus, HOMO, at kormlyayu,

Фелляция, лютеллия, – сола!
Fellatio, lyutelliya – Sol! – –

Коттаю анно: я тебя любляю …
Kottayam annotation: I’ll Ljubljana …

– Любляю, – прошептал он, – на этом языке, вероятно, так произносится «люблю». – Ljubljana, – he whispered, – the language is probably true, pronounced “love”.

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