We haven’t done this before, but we have a couple extra copies of the galley for Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Gavelis and rather than let them rot, we thought we’d pass them along to you.
Considered to be one of the turning points in contemporary Lithuanian literature, Vilnius Poker is an ambitious book that—from four different, contradictory viewpoints—details life (and paranoia) in Lithuanian during the Soviet years.
I’m attaching a sample below, and if you’re interested in getting one of these galleys, just e-mail me at chad.post at rochester dot edu by tomorrow at 5pm. Winners (who must live in the U.S.—sorry) will be randomly selected from everyone who enters.
Here’s the sample:
The entire story of Camus’ life always seemed somewhat strange to me. Hidden in the sands of Algeria, he, of course, could have come across more essential things than the inhabitants of the large metropolitan centers can. In a center of culture and learning, in the hum of people, they feel safe, they blend into the crowd, into the profusion of words and opinions. They always dictate intellectual fashions, by this method concealing things that are troublesome to them. Inhabitants of obscure places have far more time to delve into the essence of the world, but also far fewer chances for their ideas to reach humanity. Camus successfully reconciled the qualities of a hermit and Europe’s darling.
His spiritual activity was twofold. Some of his writings, let’s say, The Myth of Sisyphus, seem to indicate that Camus was practically an apologist for their activities. This is partly confirmed by his Nobel Prize (_almost_ always it’s their emissaries who determine the awarding of official prizes: I emphasize—neither Joyce, nor Kafka, nor Genet received any prizes).
On the other hand, The Plague or The Stranger brazenly intrude into their inviolable domain. The portrayal of the plague is strongly suggestive of an allegory of their system, while Mersault is one of the most influential portraits of a kanuked being. There’s no sense in delving into Camus’ real activities—the most significant things won’t be found in the tangle of his biography. But his death is worth pondering. Perhaps at first Camus was an obedient (let’s say an inadvertent) servant of theirs, and later he saw through things. Maybe he was cleverly feigning all the time, secretly damaging them. We can only speculate. One way or another, he slowly began behaving in an unacceptable manner; maybe he even did things to them that are forbidden to talk about (even to think about them is dangerous). Retribution was quick. The fatalistic death, the lost manuscripts—all of that’s in an all too familiar style. Gediminas’s letters also disappeared without a trace.
Camus’ precedent was the first I wrote into the great list of their victims.
The fact that you won’t find straightforward information about them in books ultimately proves that they exist. It would be easy to fight with a concrete societal or political organization that everyone knows or has at least come across. An identified enemy is almost a conquered enemy. Everyone would have risen up against them a long time ago, they would have been destroyed at some point. Unfortunately, their race exists and works harmoniously. This proves that they’re hidden, undiscovered, uninvestigated. But whether they want to or not, they leave traces behind. All of their victims are indelible footprints.
More can be found here. And don’t forget to e-mail me at chad.post at rochester dot edu to be entered in the drawing.
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Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .