Continuing a series of his literary reviews, Pavel Kukhmirov decided to share his impression of Yuri Mamleyev’s novel “Connecting Rods”. According to him, this book was talked about as a black magician Voldemort – someone who can not be mentioned, but sometimes necessary. Like something very dark and very closed. Nevertheless, the author notes that Mamleyev’s “Connecting Rods” had a great influence on the formation of modern domestic intellectual thought. Moreover, it was she who gave birth to all Russian literary postmodernism.
Ugh… Well, what can I say, guys. This is the MOST stubborn reading in my life. That’s right, in all capital letters. Although, to be honest, I didn’t think anyone would surpass Sorokin’s Blue Fat. And yet. But if Sorokin is just a graphomaniac and a high-eater, then there is something else. Quite different. Much deeper. And much blacker. However, to the point.
The most amazing thing here is that this book was written not just in Soviet times, but in deep Soviet times: in the 50s. To put it mildly, she was well ahead of her time. To be honest, I still can’t imagine this before the 90’s. Naturally, she was in the deepest literary underground. She was a samizdat and read a very specific network of informal circles, which, according to contemporaries, were “a whole world, sharply different not only from the official world of culture, but also from dissident circles.” That is, it was underground, in a square, in a cube, to the hundredth degree. Actually, that’s all there is to it. Only in such an environment could something like this appear.
… Meanwhile, I’m sitting and thinking: how do I even start describing it? That’s real – a scab in the back of the head. And this after almost a couple of hundred written literary reviews. Let’s put it this way: I don’t regret reading it. But I had no idea what it would be, and I started reading for general development. But if I knew, would I start reading? Put your hand on your heart: not a fact at all. Officially, The Rods is a grotesque novel. If, in fact, it is a fierce, ferocious trash, starting from the first page. No warning, no acceleration. Gloomy game with slasher elements. Intellectual decadence and postmodernism, stylized for the common people.
This last one is especially charming: it’s as if you’re reading a novel by a soil writer, rewritten by Andrei Chikatilo. It’s as if the author is some kind of heavy drug addict and Vasily Shukshin or Mikhail Tarkovsky who has lost his mind. Something in between Jean-Paul Sartre and a Bitz maniac. And I now understand that the previously mentioned Sorokin, with all his tricks, is just a pathetic imitator. And, very pathetic. He has a banal aesthetic abomination, and here are dark abysses.
At the same time, the book can not be called bad. It is written exceptionally talented – do not take it away (I just admired in some places – that’s his rush!). But this alone is pure evil. Thick and concentrated, like greasy soot. We can say that “Rods” is a deeply Gnostic text, and what has been said will be pure truth. But this is not the refined Gnosticism of Thomas Mann or Hermann Hesse. It is something thick, animal and brutal. Something chthonic. And this word is by no means a metaphor. “Rods” – a natural Gnostic chthon. And if someone now asks me what “black metaphysics” is, I will remember this book.
I will not talk much about the plot here. Does it make sense in principle to talk about the plot of a nightmare or a heavy drug trip? The heroes there are not just dark, but very dark souls. The main character is a real demon. Not a man, but some Hindu monster from a picture from an ancient manuscript (but, for some reason, living in Russia in the mid-20th century). He kills people to “understand the essence of death.” And they all comprehend it there. This whole book is a real apology for death. Hymn in her honor. Being there is shown as disgusting as the den of syphilis-sick criminals – so vile that death seems to be the only bright moment in such a world. As one of the heroines said: “So after death is life itself” (c). And rest assured: this idea is shown and highlighted from all angles.
I have no questions about the purely literary part. I will not discuss it – this book is not about literature at all. And closer to the finale, here’s what I want to say: we now live in a reality created by those who read this book. In all seriousness. And that’s really scary.
You can read this ONLY if you quite consciously and purposefully want some special gloomy experience. If you want a trip to Hell. Otherwise, I categorically do not recommend reading it. You do not need to stare into the abyss without a serious need. So that she doesn’t start staring at you.
Header photo: disgustingmen.com
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Yuri Mamleev “Rods”,