Critic Polina Ryzhova About Her Favorite Books

A life 2023

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Critic Polina Ryzhova About Her Favorite Books
Critic Polina Ryzhova About Her Favorite Books

Video: Critic Polina Ryzhova About Her Favorite Books

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Video: BOYFRIEND VS GIRLFRIEND - TOP 5 CLASSICS // our favourite books 2023, January

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IN THE HEADING "BOOKSHELF" we ask the heroines about their literary preferences and publications, which occupy an important place in the bookcase. Today critic, journalist and editor of the Polka project Polina Ryzhova tells about her favorite books.


Polina Ryzhova


Wailing that the novel is dead, the author is dead, the paper is dead, literature is dead, the book market is dead, and in general everything is dead, only marginalize the practice of reading

Literature today is, in a sense, a typical "girl in trouble". And I am equally annoyed by those who are trying to get rid of her, and those who frenziedly save her. Because by themselves all these challenges like "I will read a hundred thousand books this year!" that the novel has died, the author has died, the paper has died, literature has died, the book market has died, and in general everything in the world has died, except for YouTube bloggers, telegram channels and cryptocurrencies.

Yes, the status of the book has changed, to put it mildly. The world no longer revolves around her, simply because a bunch of other objects have appeared. And people who read this normal, in general, competition, as a rule, feel like the last day of Pompeii - although the function of entertainment simply disappears from literature: it is no longer a way to kill time or clear your head. It is not clear why to pore over a clumsyly written detective in a terrible cover, if you can turn on a luxurious series with your favorite actors, and even cook dinner in the process.

At the same time, in the literature there remains everything that is usually talked about with aspiration. And this, in my opinion, will not become obsolete and will not die, even if people learn to download the US Library of Congress into their heads with a single click. I have a stupid travel analogy. Take the distance N, which can be covered in three ways: by plane, by car, and on foot. By plane, of course, the fastest and most convenient way, but also the least impressions. It takes longer by car, but you will get to know the area, and adventures are guaranteed - the car will break down, you will take fellow travelers. And if you go on foot, it will, of course, be history - no, not even History with a capital letter. You may die in the process, but this experience is likely to radically change your life, every bush you pass will leave a mark on your soul.

In my opinion, it is not only the very fact of contact with creativity that is important, but also the quality of interaction: walking is like reading a cool book, driving a car is like watching a good movie, a plane ticket - I don’t know, like gifs with kittens. Reading is always a work for me, and it's hard to agree to it: the lazy and tortured part of me constantly wants to watch gifs, not read. And this seems to be normal: all worthwhile things in life are given to a person through the resistance of his own inertia. I didn’t overcome - I didn’t get it.

I have always perceived a text, and especially an artistic text, as a magical space - it is amazingly able to "think out" itself. You usually approach a letter without having anything; perhaps in a small way, a fragment of a memory, an anemic thought. And only in the process (if you're lucky, of course) a rhythm, a melody appears, a new, strong thought is born, which, by the way, has little in common with the original one. A good text is independent, it does not include ideology and ready-made concepts. A talented author will begin to write about good or bad Putin, but he will write, without noticing himself, about the era, love, loneliness and death.

Those who can’t bury all the literature try to bury at least the modern one.Indeed, can some obscure author compete with the collection of the world's best prose? Every writer on this list has a long tail of recommendations - a guarantee that you won't be wasting your time. Dostoevsky and Nabokov, of course, can be endlessly interpreted and applied where it hurts, but they will no longer write about us today, they will not think about us through the text, they will not express our pain and anger. Yes, today there are many other ways to convey the spirit of the times in creativity. Literature is no longer the main road, but it seems to me still one of the most picturesque.

There are two options for successful reading: the unconscious, when I fall into history, like a trap, and the conscious, when I evaluate the slide along the lines, from time to time in furious delight I close the book, saying: "What a talented scoundrel!" I don't really like the first one - when I get out of the hole, I understand that they set up a cunning trap for me, tickled my nerves, twisted empathy to the maximum, but, by and large, I was cheated anyway. But I love the second state with trepidation: I get some kind of physiological pleasure from the process.

And yet, as it turned out, there is transcendental reading - the rarest subspecies. When you suddenly discover texts that you don't exactly like or don't like - they are so yours that you feel in them like in a deprivation chamber or amniotic fluid. That is, in fact, you don't feel anything - you just part with your own boundaries.

Literature more

not the main road, but, I think, still

one of the most picturesque


Maria Stepanova

One, not one, not me

A collection of near-literary essays by the best, in my opinion, contemporary Russian publicist. In Stepanova's texts, meanings are poured over every word, if not every letter. I like to twist each sentence for a long time, wondering how it is done: qualitatively, with taste, but every time with some hypnotizing “incorrectness”, due to which the meanings do not fall into the prepared “holes”, but anxiously roll over, forcing one to think.

This is exactly what the ideal literary criticism looks like to me - not fussy scoring for a work or drawing it into some topical agenda, but co-creation, a superstructure over the text of additional floors. Grigory Dashevsky also wrote about literature, to whom Stepanova's book, in fact, is dedicated.

Sergey Soloviev

Indian Defense

Another collection of essays. Solovyov's texts are so oversaturated with images, so poetic that it is impossible to read for a long time - it makes him sick, as if from frequent breathing. Solovyov can push off from anything - the figure of Vvedensky, philosophical inference, a sunbeam on a writing table, the outline of a woman's chest - and get along the ropes of associations to where none of us have ever been. In the world of his prose, three very different and close to me sources are quite naturally combined: Russian literature, the nature of the Crimea and the reverent attitude towards India - which I especially appreciate.

Arundati Roy

God of little things

Roy told her story in such a way that some part of me remained to live in Kerala Ayemenem - a stifling world of family ties, sentimental and terrible memories, a space of pure childhood pain that can never be relieved by anything. And it is precisely this pain that shakes up the entire text: “The God of Little Things” is not a boring Booker postcolonial novel, but a book about the inner world of a person, family, country, planet turned inside out. At the same time, there is not a single pretentious note, the whole text rests on details, trifles, trinkets, rubbish - a kind of "girlish" solipsism.

Bhagavad Gita As It Is

Interesting story. Arjuna, the leader of the Pandava clan, prepares to fight the treacherous Kauravas. But suddenly he begins to doubt: I am now killing all my relatives, I’ll arrange a blood bath - and for what? For some kingdom? Rave.But Krishna, having got a job as his charioteer, tells Arjuna that everyone must be killed, and explains why.

In my opinion, this is a delightfully paradoxical plot for any religion, especially for Hinduism, which is associated with non-violence, detachment, caring for karma and other beautiful things. Krishna explains to Arjuna that the most important thing is not to sit all his life in the lotus position, but to fulfill his duty. I like to think about it. The only pity is that, unlike Arjuna, we do not have the opportunity to chat with Krishna - to make sure that we understand exactly what this very duty is.

Vasily Rozanov

Fallen leaves

Rozanov's prose is very understandable and too vague, thoroughly ironic and at the same time frighteningly sincere. Everything revolves around him - and at the same time there is no complacency. What I especially like is that in his world there is no straightforwardness, unambiguity, all that, if desired, can be criticized or refuted. Rozanov himself refutes everything and agrees with everything himself, he is here, and there, and everywhere, and nowhere - and this makes his texts invulnerable. Galkovsky in "Endless Dead End" compared them with a black hole: "We want to understand Rozanov, but we find ourselves in the closed curved space of his irony and slip out of it to another level of our own consciousness."

Egor Radov

"Mandustra", "Serpentine"

Radov, like all postmodernists of the nineties, loves to snap readers on the nose: so that there is more sex, and violence, and sacrilege, and perky nonsense - tea, did not get into Soviet literature. But unlike others, the game of deconstruction is not an end in itself, but an instrument of the philosophical system; Radov equates high and low, good and bad, funny and not so, because everything in the world has a mandustra - a common aesthetic essence, a grandiose truth. The ability to see the creativeness of things means the ability to live in art, the ability to live in a high, because “art is a high”.

Olga Komarova


Universe of female insanity: inflamed consciousness or, on the contrary, blissful stupidity. For me, this is the most exciting topic in art. The heroines of Komarova are all as one unhappy, losing their minds, but at the same time they cause not pity, but horror - as when you look into an abyss that will surely bite off your head. Komarova herself knew about the abyss firsthand: she had nervous breakdowns, and in the early nineties she fell into Orthodoxy and burned everything she had written.

Andrey Platonov

Juvenile Sea

To be honest, I had no idea at all that it was possible to write this way. Not words, but boulders. Not heroes, but titans. Under the pressure of this incredible force, you yourself turn into a young Soviet country, into a remelted pig iron, into the very meat state farm that Nadezhda Bestaloeva and Nikolai Vermo are rebuilding. And at the same time, all the time you feel happiness and melancholy, pouring inside the juvenile sea.

Julian Barnes

There is nothing to be afraid of

A great essay on death. Somewhere ironic, somewhere sentimental, somewhere conceptual, and somewhere frivolous. But in itself, concentration on this topic, a constant return to this final (initial, in fact) point causes protest, anxiety, even panic. Barnes, as best he can, tries to reassure the reader - not to console, but to be there, to share the experience of his own mortality.

Stephen Pinker

"Blank sheet. Human nature.

Who refuses to admit and why

her today"

A rare example of efficient non-fixation. Pinker does not retell ideas - he takes you on an intellectual journey (or captivity?), Which you then want to continue on your own. We are all accustomed to living inside a conceptual contradiction: on the one hand, science confidently declares that the whole person with his complex internal world order can be explained by biology, on the other hand, we still want to believe in our own infinity, opacity and incomprehensibility, and this biological determinism is like how even offensive. Pinker manages to remove this painful contradiction, and without it, believe me, it is easier to breathe.

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