Non / fiction book fair kicked off at the Central House of Artists yesterday, where this year (as, indeed, always) you can find a lot of interesting things. Perhaps the most anticipated release of the fair is the Russian translation of "Little Life" by the American writer Hanya Yanagihara. We must thank the publishing house Corpus for this and, in particular, the translators - Alexandra Borisenko, Anastasia Zavozova and Viktor Sonkin.
A Little Life is a novel about four close friends from New York who just graduated from college. Their relationship changes over time, so that the story touches on the problems of a difficult childhood, health difficulties, homosexual relationships, physical and mental abuse and its consequences. Despite the large volume of 688 pages and the complexity of the topics described in the book, the novel became a bestseller in its home country last year and received a huge number of positive reviews from critics. Here is an excerpt from a book about love, violence, friendship and betrayal; a book that everyone will be reading in the coming months.
When Caleb first hit him, he wasn't too surprised. It happened at the end of July, he left work and arrived at Caleb's at about midnight. On that day, he moved in a chair - recently something strange was happening with his legs, he did not understand what exactly, but he just almost did not feel them, it seemed, if he tried to walk, he would certainly fall down - but, having arrived to Caleb, he left a chair in the car and very slowly walked towards the house, lifting his legs unnaturally high so as not to stumble.
Before he had time to enter, he realized that it was not worth coming, it was clear that Caleb was in a disgusting mood, and even the air in the apartment seemed musty, heated with his anger. Caleb finally moved into a house in the Flower Quarter, but he still didn't unpack his things, and he was nervous, tense and every now and then clenched his teeth until he squeaked. But he brought the food and, moving very slowly, laid it out on the kitchen counter, while trying to distract Caleb from his walk with carefree chatter, desperate to fix it somehow.
Why are you walking like that? cut him off Caleb.
It was intolerable to tell Caleb that there was still something wrong with him, he could not bring himself to go through it again.
Am I walking strange? he asked.
Yes, like Frankenstein's monster.
Sorry, he said.
said a voice inside him. …
I didn't notice that I walked like that.
Well, don't go like that. You look like a fool.
Okay, he said quietly, and put some curry in a bowl for Caleb. Here you go. And he walked towards Caleb, but, trying to walk normally, he hit his left foot with his right foot, tripped and dropped the bowl, spilling green curry on the carpet.
Then he will remember how Caleb, without saying a word, just turned around and hit him with the back of his hand, so that he fell, hitting his head on the carpeted floor.
So, get out, Jude, he heard Caleb's voice even before his sight returned; Caleb didn't even scream. Look, I can't see you now.
And he went out, getting to his feet, walking with his stupid monstrous gait, leaving Caleb to clean up after him.
The next day, his face blossomed, the skin around his left eye was painted in incredibly lovely shades: lilac, amber, bottle green. By the end of the week, when he went to see Andy, his cheek had become a mossy color, his eye was swollen and hardly opened, and his upper lip was swollen, inflamed and turned shiny red.
Jesus Christ, Jude, Andy said when he saw him. What the hell happened?
Wheelchair tennis, he replied, and even smiled, he rehearsed this smile last night in front of the mirror, his cheek twitched with pain. He found out everything: where the matches are held, how often, how many people are in the club. He invented a story, which he told first to himself, and then to his colleagues, until it became believable and even comical: an opponent who had played since college kicks in with his right hand, he does not have time to turn, a ball in his face.
All this he told Andy, and he listened to him, shaking his head.
Well, he said, I'm certainly glad you got carried away with something. But damn it, Jude. Do you think this is a good idea?
You yourself keep telling me not to overwork my legs, he reminded Andy.
I know, I know, Andy said, but you already swim, maybe that's enough? And in general, it was then necessary to immediately go to me.
Andy, this is just a bruise, he said.
It's a damn creepy bruise. Damn, well, Jude.
Okay, in short. He tried to speak light-heartedly and even a little rudely. I need to consult with you about the legs.
Strange sensations, as if I thrust my feet into barrels of cement. I do not feel them in space - I cannot control them. I lift one leg, and when I put it on the ground, I feel with my hip that I have put it, but I don’t feel the leg itself.
Oh Jude, Andy said. So your nerves are damaged. He sighed. The good news is - well, apart from the fact that you could have started it much earlier - so, the good news is this: this is not forever. Bad news: I can't tell you when it will end, if it will start again, and when. And one more bad news: the only thing that can be helped here - well, except to wait until it passes - is painkillers, which, as I know, you do not want to take. He paused. Jude, I know you don't like the way you feel on painkillers, but now there are better drugs on the market than those sold when you were in your twenties or even thirty. Maybe you can try? Let me at least write you something unpretentious for your face - is it really hurting you?
Not really, he lied.
But I still took the recipe.
And don't overwork your legs, Andy said, examining his face. Yes with tennis, for God's sake, don't overdo it too. And, when he was already leaving, he added: And we will talk about cuts too!
Because since they started dating Caleb, he cut himself up more often.
Back in Green Street, he parked in the driveway in front of the garage and was just unlocking the front door when he heard someone calling and saw Caleb getting out of the car. He was in a wheelchair and tried to quickly drive into the entrance. But Caleb was faster, he managed to grab the closing door, and now the two of them were alone again in the lobby.
You shouldn't have come, he told Caleb, who he couldn't even look at.
Jude, listen, Caleb said. I'm very embarrassed. Honestly, very much. I just … at work such a nightmare is happening, everyone behaves like the last assholes … I would have arrived early, but I just could not even get out of there … and, behold, I fell for you. Forgive me please. He squatted down next to him. Jude. Take a look at me. He sighed. Please forgive. He cupped his face in his hands, turned it towards him. Your poor face, he said quietly.
He still does not quite understand why then he allowed Caleb to go up to the apartment. However, to be completely honest, he feels that Caleb's blow was inevitable, that after that it even became easier for him to some extent: he was waiting for some kind of punishment for his self-confidence, for thinking that he was allowed to do something. the same as others, and now - at last - he is punished., repeated the voice in his head. … He recalls how JB was afraid of Jackson, and he understands this fear, it is understandable how one person can be completely at the mercy of another and how what seems like a trifling matter - getting up and leaving them - can be an overwhelming task. He feels for Caleb what he once felt for his brother Luke: he hastened to trust him, he pinned so many hopes on him, he thought that he would save him. But even when it became clear - no, they would not save him, even when all hopes collapsed, he could not free himself from them, could not leave. And in the fact that he nailed to Caleb, there is even a kind of symmetry: they are with him like pain and a patient, a tilted heap of garbage and a jackal sniffing at it. They exist only for each other - he did not know anyone in Caleb's life and did not introduce him to anyone in his life. They both knew they were doing something embarrassing. They are both bound by mutual disgust and awkwardness: Caleb endures his body, and he endures Caleb's disgust.
He always knew: if he wanted to find a mate for himself, he would have to sacrifice something. He knows Caleb is the best he can count on. At least Caleb is at least not a freak, at least not a sadist. He does not do anything to him that has not been done to him before - he reminds himself of this over and over again.
One weekend at the end of September, he drove to Bridgehampton, a friend of Caleb's house, where Caleb settled until early October. The presentation of "Rothko" went smoothly, and Caleb relaxed a little, even became more affectionate. He hit him only once, in the gut, so that he flew a few steps and almost fell, but even then he immediately apologized. But otherwise - nothing remarkable: on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Caleb spends evenings on Green Street, then on Friday he leaves for the coast. He leaves for work early in the morning and stays there late. After the success with Boa and Bastard, he hoped for a break, at least a short one, but nothing came of it - a new client appeared, the investment company was accused of securities fraud, and even now he is ashamed of the fact that on Saturday he did not at work.
But other than that, Saturday was great, and they spend most of the day outdoors at work. In the evening, Caleb grills steaks. Caleb cooks and hums, and then he breaks away from work to listen to him, and realizes that both of them are happy, that at least for a moment all their contradictions are nothing more than dust, something fickle, weightless. They go to bed early, Caleb doesn't force him to have sex, and he falls asleep soundly - for the first time in weeks.