Saturday, January 24, 2009
Lost in lecternspace
Crap. It has happened again.
For all my scrupulocity in keeping copies, I nevetherless lost my second draft of the currne novel. Gone off into space....I have gone off into space!
It is not enough to be alone, flat broke, out of cigarettes and booze while at the same time clutching at straws while wtiting a novel.
I have only been able to retrieve an earlier draft.
My hero was supposed to be teaching not in Edmonton, but in Mexico-- I will have to change the locale to a country I know something about--and I hate like hell to arrive at a blog empty-handed. So I'll give your something out of first draft, and change locales later..
It is late in the evening, the hour rings with confusion, there are voices and laughter coming from the clas and to Ilya Kovalenko, something is happening. Something is happening to Ilya Kovalenko.
It is happening Ilya Kovalenko, is happening, as he had always dreaded, in public, before students, a public breakdown.
Yes, a crack-up on this windy, cold Canadian campus among the snows and pines, so like his native Ukraine, but more alien, glacier-scraped, where the water was a tea colour and rocks erratic and themselves alien,on what could have been a moonscape save for the trees. Canada withour trees is a landscape on Mars.
Something is happening, a familiar voice murmurs in his head. It is his wife, now so estranged. She is not murmurring, she is scolding. "If you only knew how deeply I resent you for what you've done. Left me alone with the kids to go on your precious lecture circuit and for all this time. I am lonely, frustrated, face it, horny. And you are not here. I'm not too sure I'll be here when you get back."
Everyone stares. Everyone listens. It seems to him suddenly that all of the northern part of America is his audience. They are all writers, listening to the adept. They are memorizing him, storing up anecdotes to be repeated after his death. Tales of the great old old poet, a Ukrainian,, but writing in English. Had he visions to pass on to the young?
God knows Canada needed a vision Had he wisdom to pass onto the young? Had he the visionary calm, the authority? Post-modernism. What is it? Is it evil, is it guity?
After all in Alberta they would call him a mere Ukie, those palookas out there hardened by the cold and the money. An immigrant, "Samigrant", Nester Pester with his manuscripts and pretentions. But he was of the intelligentsia, priestly class and they would have to accept him all the same. For in Ukrainian Alberta to be a priest was to be a Boyar, a nobleman in the old system of things Ukrainian. They would have to listen. They were pre-conditioned by their intelligentsia and the Boy Scout jamborees, so much a part of Ukrainian culture in Alberta.
He began to talk.
The startling utterances of a Turgenev--my father as my rival in love?--the sprawling rhapsodies of a Pushkin, the finely toned, but stark pronouncements of Yevtushenko and the Holocaust at Babi Yar? This was new material for the rednecks-
and they were getting it from the horse's mouth, from a master who had been to the Russia of the snows and pines.-
-But he is only Ilya Kovalenko-- Smith woud be his name in English--. Illie Smith of the frail, but tremblind outraged flesh. Trembling all the more, because he was now on his own, on the Alberta taiga, wifeless and alone.