July 9, 2004 by AK
The subject is pretty esoteric, so read no further unless Russian literature appeals to you. I’m reprinting the comment I left at Kevin’s Languor Management, slightly modified.
Vic Yerofeyev’s theories are entertaining but way too shallow to be taken seriously. He probably realizes it, too. He is popular with Anglophone intellectuals because, among other things, he doesn’t get deep or serious enough so they can always understand him using their in-built set of ready-made notions.
It’s funny that McGregor should put together Yerofeyev, Sorokin and Pelevin (“Together with fellow postmodernist writers Vladimir Sorokin and Viktor Pelevin, Yerofeyev,” etc.) Sorokin may be purely postmodern, I concede, but Yerofeyev, with his fixation on innate evil, has only been retelling Kafka in a once-fashionable “postmodern” language. He knows he’s got talent, but whatever he does, bad luck doesn’t let him become number one. Starting with his name–it is unthinkable that anyone will surpass Venedict Yerofeyev in literary talent; Vic’s refusal to pick a pen name speaks something of his ambition, but, alas, he hasn’t produced anything comparable to Moskva–Petushki. On the postmodern front, Sorokin is truer to the PM spirit, and among quasi-PMers, Pelevin is king. In the Westernized/anti-traditional/uninhibited category, Limonov remains unbeaten. Giving interviews to New Yorker is the only literary niche left to Yeroveyev Jr., but I guess Brodsky filled it better.
Oh, and there’s a great illustration to the difficult concept of poshlost’ in the article:
Frequent presences among intellectual, political and celebrity circles, he and his wife lingered into the wee hours of the morning at the election night party for pro-democratic presidential candidate Irina Khakamada in March. Later that spring, they attended a ball based on Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel “Master and Margarita” at the U.S. ambassador’s Spaso House residence.