There are people who don't like Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, as, I suppose, there are people who don't like Alexandre Trudeau, though I do like his photography, copyrighted, above, right.
The Russian Nobel prize winner seems to carry on too long with the unbearable pain and suffering of the Gulag inmates, as our correspondents Sela Carsen points out, and Alexandre Trudeau gives us stories of the Middle East almost equally depressing in these dark times.
Who's going to save this cotton pickin' world?
Change the story, change the world, says increasingly famous Douglas Rushkoff, out of New York City, with whom I occasionally correspond. Prof. Rushkoff is really talking of his recent foray into comic books after succesfully publishing a series of books on the Jewish diaspora. The comic book is an amazing vehicle. There have been coming book classics produced that echo Dostoevsky, Kafka, Orwell. Not just superheroes now, but something like the Bible, at least in parts of what Dr. Rushkoff presents. Comics have been the bible of kids for generations.
Send George Bush a serious comic book?
Through a medium he can understand, he might just see the world for the first time.
I have not produced a comic book
I have produced a mini-book.
I am amazed that forty years after I wrote my Black Icon, a million, yea, a billion people are repeating the godawful story of losing home, life, limb in the course of some stupid war or preventable famine. And things are not getting better for three-fourth of the word. They are getting worse, far worse.
The characters in my Black Icon survive by sheer peasant bullheadedness and blind luck
Also the undivorceability of the basic Slavic family unit. My Ukies stay together, come hell or high water.
"Ivan does not spare the suffering," said Barney McKinley in the Toronto Mirror
I am not Solzhenitsyn, neither am I Alexandre Trudeau.
But my work does contain instances of almost unbearable suffering, cruelty yea, even scatology. My Sophia is Neolithic.
So my Black Icon is not for the squeamish.
Ah, we fat North Americans. Transfat, you say. Scallions. Attacks on Taco Bell. Call them fugitive fries?
Josie's poor flatulent lady on the plain.
Could it be somehow construed that she had gone to the Taco Bell near the airport.
Tom Ridge is apt to do almost anything.
There are people who are not allowed to eat at all.
THE BLACK ICON
The winter of 1941-42 raged around Gallicia like a hungry white animal. Food became scarce. Though Sophia was getting plenty of mail from Germany, Michael was sending little money, asking, in fact if she would sprinkle a little tobacco along the corners of her letters. "Things must be really good!" Sophia had written. Just stamps and subsistence food for Michael over at the German factory.
He had tried to offer four potatoes to a runaway starving Jew, for which he was severely beaten and sent to a correction camp. Hardly possible to send Sophia money from there.
In the midst of it all, Sophia had to bury her grandmother.
The family would sit by the glow of the combination clay stove and fire-heated sleeping perch, eating potato soup.
Very Van Gogh.
"Where is Daddy?" young Genyk wold ask while he fingerpainted on the cold, hoary windowpanes. There would be no answer from Sophia, but at least there was soup. Katerina and Genyk, filled up onthe floury gruel, watching the billowing snow through the clear spots in the feather-patterned windows.
Soon, not only food, but wood became scarce. Fuel could always be stolen from the old crown forest, but foraging for food was more dangerous. Sophia would join forces with one Ann Podolan, whose husband was also in Germany and the two women became accomplished thieves. The large German warehouse nearby had a section where potatoes were kept. Guards were posted around the more important sheds, those containing soap and gasoline. But the whole fenced-in area was patrolled by dogs. One woman would stand near a hole in the fence, watching for dogs and hundfuhrers while the other woud make for the raised wooden doors where the potatoes were. Here, the lock, an old blacksmith-made thing, was easy to open. Such locks were standard in Galicia and the key to one would open them all. But the dogs.
One night, Sophia crept under the fence and made for the root cellar door. Halfway, she paused, looking back at Ann. It was clear. Now she was at the cellar entrance, skeleton key out, ready to be inserted into the smiling hole in the black face. A click and the hasp flew open. She was about to raise the door and go in, but something stopped her. She looked up to see two yellow eyes peering back.
The dog, young and large-chested, stared at her, more curious than menacing. She froze. The two of them crouched on their respective fours, eyeing each other for a full minute. From behind, Sophia heard Ann hissing at her. Too late. Now the animal moved towards Sophia, quietly, as if stalking a bird. She clutched at the heavy loose lock. her left hand, meanwhile, was winding a heavy linen handkerchief around itself. The dog sensed something. A low growl rose in its throat, as its training took over. It was the last noise the dog ever made.
On him like a flash, Sophia wasted no energy. Her right hand grasped the dog behind the forepaws, the left rammed itself into the opening jaws, past the horrible teeth--and stayed there in the Alsatian's throat while the animal writhed. After the spasms settled into weak jerks, two skull-bruising whacks with the lock finished the dog off.
In the cellar now, cutting a large burlap bag with a jacknife, letting the potatoes tumble into her uplifted skirt; raising the door with with her head, cautiously at first, then up higher, enough to ler her out; dashing to where Ann was waiting. Then keeping guard while tthe other woman took her turn, past the door, past the dog, into the potatoes.
While running for home, they decided they'd better try another warehouse next, perhaps a boxcar where the Hungarians kept rations.
The following night, a woman was ripped apart by four Alsatians.
..............end BLACK ICON, Chapter Six.
----- Original Message -----
From: Ivan Prokopchuk