Anatoly Vorobey (avva) wrote,
Anatoly Vorobey

книги: leaving the atocha station

Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station
Бен Лернер, "Покидая вокзал Аточа"

На удивление хороший, неожиданный, свежий дебютный роман американского поэта Бена Лернера. Повествование ведется от имени молодого американского поэта Адама Гордона, который в 2003-м году получает грант на то, чтобы год прожить в Мадриде и изучать испанскую поэзию и историю. Герой романа рассказывает о своей жизни в Мадриде от первого лица.

Адам Гордон занимается в основном тем, что курит план, ощущает себя самозванцем, напряженно пытается угадать по знакомым ему словам, что именно говорят ему по-испански, и самозабвенно врет девушкам о своей жизни, пытаясь манипулировать их эмоциями. В целом он предстает весьма несимпатичным персонажем - и вместе с тем читатели, которым знакомы сомнение в себе и ощущение себя самозванцем, найдут в его мыслях много созвучного и очень точно отмеченного.

Все это написано очень смешно - не в смысле "приколов", а за счет мастерски показанного столкновения потока мыслей и ожиданий героя с мадридской реальностью и людьми, ее населяющими. Я снова и снова не мог удержаться от смеха, читая эту книгу. И еще - автор отлично передает отчуждение, которое ощущаешь, общаясь в чужой стране на чужом языке с людьми, привычек и условностей которых не научился еще понимать.

Я процитирую здесь длинный отрывок, в котором герой рассказывает о поэтическом вечере: он слушает чтение другого поэта и страдает от того, какое это банальное графоманство, и с ужасом ожидает своей очереди (он не ожидал, что придется читать свои стихи, друзья поставили его перед фактом).

Everyone began to take their seats; the gallery was long and narrow with high ceilings and white walls and it was full; there were probably eighty people. There was a podium with a lamp and microphone and a small pitcher of water and as I sat with Teresa and Rafa in the fourth row, pissed off, nauseated with anxiety, searching my bag for a tranquilizer as inconspicuously as possible, Arturo approached the podium, thanked everyone for coming, then talked about the night’s program. We were lucky to have two of the most interesting new voices in Spanish and American poetry in the gallery. We would first hear from Tomás Gomez or Gutiérrez, who had won such and such prizes, and whose work had such and such characteristics, and who was also a talented painter. Then we’d hear from Adam Gordon, who was in Madrid on a prestigious fellowship, whose work was having some sort of effect on something, whose poetry was intensely political and reminiscent of a Spanish poet I’d never heard of, only instead of protesting Franco, it took on the United States of Bush. This amplified my nervousness, as it had nothing to do with my poetry, such as it was, and as Arturo sat down to applause and Tomás Gomez or Gutiérrez approached the podium, I imagined beating Arturo’s face in with the microphone or lamp.

Tomás looked less like he was going to read poetry and more like he was going to sing flamenco or weep; he did not say thank you or good evening or anything but instead paused dramatically as if to gather his strength for what would be by any measure a heroic undertaking. He had shoulder-length hair that kept falling in his eyes as he arranged his papers and he kept smoothing it back with a gesture I found studied; he struck me as a caricature of himself, a caricature of El Poeta. A few more people were trickling into the gallery and he looked at them gravely until they found seats. Then he looked back down at his paper, looked back up at the crowd, and when the silence had intensified to his liking, he uttered what I assumed was the title of his first poem: “Sea.” To my surprise this poem was totally intelligible to me, an Esperanto of clichés: waves, heart, pain, moon, breasts, beach, emptiness, etc.; the delivery was so cloying the thought crossed my mind that his apparent earnestness might be parody. But then he read his second poem, “Distance”: mountains, sky, heart, pain, stars, breasts, river, emptiness, etc. I looked at Arturo and his face implied he was having a profound experience of art.

Maybe, I wondered or tried to wonder, I’m not understanding; maybe these words have a specific weight and valence I cannot appreciate in Spanish, or maybe he is performing subtle variations on a sexist tradition of which I am not in possession. As Tomás read a third poem, “Work Dream” or “Dream Work,” I forced myself to listen as if the poem were unpredictable and profound, as if that were given somehow, and any failure to be compelled would be exclusively my own. The intensity of my listening did at least return strangeness to each word, force me to confront it as a sound, and then to recapture the miracle of sound opening or almost opening onto sense, and I managed to suspend my disgust. I could not, however, keep this up; it required too much concentration to hear such familiar figurations as intensely strange, even in Spanish. It was not until I began to consider the scene more generally that my interest caught: there were eighty or so people gathered to listen to this utter shit as though it were their daily language passing through the crucible of the human spirit and emerging purified, redeemed; or here were eighty-some people believing the commercial and ideological machinery of their grammar was being deconstructed or at least laid bare, although that didn’t really seem like Tomás’s thing; he was more of a crucible of the human spirit guy. If people were in fact moved, convincing themselves they discovered whatever they projected into the hackneyed poem, or better yet, if people felt the pressure to perform absorption in the face of what they knew was an embarrassing placeholder for an art no longer practicable for whatever reasons, a dead medium whose former power could be felt only as a loss—these scenarios did for me involve a pathos the actual poems did not, a pathos that in fact increased in proportion to their failure, as the more abysmal the experience of the actual the greater the implied heights of the virtual. Then I was able to hear the perfect idiocy of Tomás’s writing as a kind of accomplishment, especially combined with his unwitting parody of himself, doing that thing with his hair, gripping the podium as though the waves of emotion breaking over him might wash him from his feet, and I began to relax a little about my own performance, the tranquilizer no doubt also having its effect. I told myself that no matter what I did, no matter what any poet did, the poems would constitute screens on which readers could project their own desperate belief in the possibility of poetic experience, whatever that might be, or afford them the opportunity to mourn its impossibility. My own poetry, I told myself, would offer this to the gathering as, or even more effectively, than Tomás’s, as my poems in their randomness and disorder were in some important sense unformed, less poems than a pile of materials out of which poems could be built; they were pure potentiality, awaiting articulation. And translation would further keep my poems in contact with the virtual, as everyone must wonder what Arturo or Spanish was incapable of carrying over from the English, and so their failure, their negative power, was assured.

Tomás’s increasingly histrionic manner signaled his reading was drawing to a close, and after yet another terrible poem he paused, looked at the audience again, and then abandoned the podium without a word, at which point everyone applauded.

Очень рекомендую. 9/10.
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