An online magazine about literature and culture "Gorky" was launched today, founded by Russian publisher and publicist Boris Kupriyanov. We met with the editor-in-chief of Gorky, Nina Nazarova, and talked about the lack of time for reading, literary reviews and how to turn a book from a piece of furniture into a part of life.
Everyone seems to be reading a lot less. And at a time like this, you launch a website about literature
At least we have less time - more precisely, the competition has intensified during this time. I remember how I lived not only without the Internet, but also without a VCR. Then books, of course, beat TV with a crushing score and were the most important source of knowledge of the world. And now there is a feeling that time for reading is constantly eating away progress - for example, wi-fi in the Moscow metro became his next victory. Reading is increasingly turning into a conscious choice: by default, people no longer grab a book, but something else. For social networks, for example.
On the other hand, the same social networks work as a media and a recommendation service: you can find out about a new book from Facebook
Well, it's still a way of spreading information. The question is where this information comes from. Of course, there are excellent publications in Russian that write about books and literature: Kommersant Weekend, Afisha, Colta, Meduza. However, they write mainly about new books - within the framework of a general conversation about cultural novelties, about consumption. But we read books without being attached to when they came out. Sometimes it is in the mood, sometimes because someone advised, sometimes because the author's name caught your eye and you remembered that you had wanted to read it for a long time. The choice is complicated and whimsical.
At Gorky we want to shake this established practice of talking only about new things. Therefore, even when I order the author a review of a new thing, I certainly specify: "If you want to talk about old works on the same topic, do not deny yourself anything." Relatively speaking, a review of a new novel about Rome can begin even with Gogol. I would like to have a feeling of a living cultural process, and not just new products on display.
That is, you will partly follow the path of "Arzamas"?
I am a big fan of Arzamas, I love and appreciate them very much, but our approach to talking about books is still different. They are engaged in enlightenment from the point of view of the historical context, they tell how people actually lived, thought and felt in this or that era and how do we know about it. But in order to read Anna Karenina and think and experience something about it, it is not necessary to be aware of Tolstoy's literary position in the 1870s. The work itself is quite valuable in itself.
I really love the story from “Notes and Extracts” by Mikhail Leonovich Gasparov: “Ven. Erofeev was an anti-Semite. This was told to Lotman, who admired him. Lotman replied: "I am not interested in the intimate life of writers." This is not about turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism, of course. We just go from the books themselves, and not from the circumstances of the history of their creation - although they, of course, may also interest us.
And literary texts have always been important for magazines - writers could make a name for themselves thanks to them. Today this is no longer to be found: in the same Esquire I looked through, had fun and forgot, you don't even look at the author's name. How will Gorky deal with such texts?
The idea is very good - in the same The New Yorker it is a mandatory part of the magazine. But we haven't thought about it yet. We will have a section "Fragments", where we are going to publish, on the one hand, preprints, and on the other hand, to re-actualize old texts that seem appropriate and important to us.For example, when it was the anniversary of Gagarin's flight into space, my colleague remembered that Platonov had a wonderful story in which a man goes into space, of course, long before any Gagarin, and it is very interesting to re-read it now. And to publish new items on purpose is a very tempting idea, but this requires separate production; maybe someday we will do it.
If a rather specific situation has developed with the texts about books, then with the same cinema it is not so: there is, for example, the magazine "Seans", which publishes huge texts about everything in the world, which are not afraid to publish or read. But there is no such magazine about literature. Serious reviews are published in magazines for philologists, they scare and smell like mothballs. Can book reviews be made less old-fashioned?
The review format that exists now is a very understandable genre: one and a half to two thousand characters with an explanation of whether or not to read this or that book. And I want to shake this rigid format. Our reviews are more voluminous, and I always ask the authors to tell about an era or a problem, about what and why it is important to know about this topic, and only then, in fact, move on to the book itself. This approach makes the text deeper and more interesting. For example, our review of Adolphe Loos's book Why Men Should Be Well Dressed at the same time explains why Loos is important as an architect and theorist in general, and how his ideas about appearance were embedded in his ideology.
Among other experiments in the field of format - a series of interviews about the book education of various people: now there are conversations on the site with the poet Sergei Gandlevsky, the artist Pavel Pepperstein, the special correspondent of Novaya Gazeta Elena Kostyuchenko. This is not a list of favorite books - rather, talk about what people read when they were 15, 20, or, conversely, when they were in the 90s; personal book experience in dynamics - after all, there are no constants in the literary picture of the world.
In this sense, the "Bookshelf" column on Wonderzine is very good. There is a story about this. When I came to the first meeting with the founder of the Gorky project, Boris Kupriyanov, we were sitting in a cafe with him and with my colleague Ivan Aksyonov. And they reasoned that everyone around them writes about books wrong and wrong. And you have to imagine how they look - serious, brutal men. And suddenly these serious, brutal men practically in unison say: "In general, the most unexpected and fresh reading about books is the" Bookshelf "on the Wonderzine website." Then I immediately understood: we will succeed. And I suspect that my "Bookshelf" for them, too, has become a kind of part of the resume.
How do you look at the idea of showing reading as fun? For example, Arzamas projects like Shakespeare's emoji or funny tasks in Goodreads reading groups - how do you feel about things that seem to desacralize texts?
I am in both hands for desacralization. Of course, we want to show that reading is not the lot of high-browed intellectuals, but, on the contrary, is a natural part of life. And separately - that people should not be ridiculed or condemned for their bookish choice. I had a period when I even dared to read "Harry Potter" only at home, so that no one would see it. Let my husband know, but no, no more … But at some point I was let go, and now I am sure that everything can be read. Do not be shy and think that some not very intellectual book makes you worse. As for specific formats, we will also do games, tests and other entertaining things, but a little later.
To what extent is the design of a literature website important in general?
Very important! We have a full-time photo editor Elizaveta Dedova, and she shoots a real bookporn. Another working idea of ours is that when books are filmed against a white background, this is a kind of objectification. We try to shoot books not as an object, but as part of the process: books that someone opens in the cinema, that someone holds under their arm.The day before yesterday we filmed Bukowski's collection entitled "From a notebook in wine stains" - we bought a bottle of red wine as a prop and thus removed the book in the environment in which it really could be. We all read books, and we also drink wine, books are lying on the table, and there may be stains and glasses around them. In a word, a book is not a beautiful object in a vacuum that we take with clean hands in a solemn atmosphere, it is a part of everyday life.
It is no secret that, on the one hand, the border between mass and intellectual literature is blurring, and on the other, the genre of the great novel has firmly returned. There seems to be less reading time, and thick books are still popular, why is this?
I would say that the love for interesting and captivatingly told stories never goes away. And these stories can be very different - even a new Franzen, even a paper horror by Mark Danilevsky "House of Leaves". We have just released material about Danilevsky - in the center of the plot is a mysterious story captured on film, a separate plot about a person who found this tape and comments, and the third plot is about a person who found a commentary on the manuscript.
In addition to triumphant post-postmodernism and all sorts of literary allusions, this is also just a very fascinating thriller - like a movie, only on paper, where the important techniques are changing fonts, inserting alien elements, and so on. And this is a great bestseller for all that. So people's longing for long, fascinating stories is unlikely to go anywhere. What has gotten worse now is with stories. I think that stories lose to Facebook in the battle for attention, and novels benefit from the big world they create.
Another interesting point: although the death of paper books has been predicted for many years, it seems that the rate of their extinction is still lower than that of global warming. Where do you read books and what do you think about the future of the paper version?
I mostly read on Kindle, because it always fits into my purse, but not every book will fit and not always. But in general, I think that nothing bad will happen with paper books for a long time. In fact, we would least of all want to oppose one to the other - on the site we want to talk, of course, first of all, about books as works, and not material objects. The main thing is reading, and in what format is already a matter of personal choice. We love books in any form: both paper and electronic, and even as a perfume with the smell of ink. But this is already a spoiler.
The photo: Maksym Alokhin - stock.adobe.com