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Post: Eduard Verkin: “Cthulhu’s ears come out of every lake, all over Russia”


MOSCOW, September 7 – RIA Novosti, Tatyana Ryzhkova. In early autumn, Edward Verkin’s book “Snark Snark” was published – a detective novel in two volumes with elements of mysticism. The author spoke with RIA Novosti about innovation, state, American and Russian evil, and why there is no children’s writers from Russia on the world literary market.

– The title of your book is an homage to Carroll’s The Hunt for the Snark. At the same time, “snark snark” sounds like a rattle at night – as if someone with claws is sneaking in. Why such a name?

– I never thought the name would sound like a rattle, but I really like this option. It’s not exactly a homage, I just couldn’t find a title, and it’s not very nice to name a book “Goblin”. The option “Snark snark” was suggested by one of the heroines, Aglaya, who reads poems about Snark. Why Snark? No one knows who he is or what happened because he was not caught. This is an elusive and rather transparent metaphor for immaterial evil.

– You have been writing the novel for four years or more. Why so long? What was the hardest part of working on it?

– In the beginning, I set myself the task of showing the story, not telling it. The reader had to see through the eyes of the narrator. But it is almost impossible to visually embed a detective story in a small volume, I would still stray into a story. Therefore, I had to deal with a large amount of text, it was the hardest. It is very painful to realize that there is still two, three years of work to be done every day. I even had to develop myself a new working system.

Eduard Verkin's books
Eduard Verkin’s books

– in action snark It takes place in the city of Chaginsk. You are not the first author to portray the state as a somewhat diabolical place. We see the same thing in Gogol and English Ackroyd… Is the phenomenon of “mystical province” more common in big countries? Or in cold-climate states with dreary forests and swamps?

– This is not only available in northern countries. Let’s take Latin American literature, same Mario Vargas Llosa. In the city of Lima, the traffic lights are on, the telephone and the cinema are working, and somewhere in the Andes, dog-headed people are walking and strange things are happening. Such a division is typical for any large country. And we have the same.

The connection between the province and large cities appeared relatively recently – 50 years ago, a trip to a neighboring city was a trip to the end of the night. (A reference to the novel of the same name by the French writer Louis-Ferdinand Celine, – Approx. ed.). And 100 years ago, humans covered the distances we can now travel in a few hours in five days. We modern humans have echoes of this perception: “we” live here and some incomprehensible “they” live there.

– You have always lived in the provinces – Vorkuta, Kostroma, Ivanovo. Does Chaginsk have anything in common with real cities?

– Yes, Chaginsk has several real prototypes. I only got the names from a real settlement so you don’t get confused on the streets.

– Is there mysticism in big cities?

– Of course, just to talk about it, you have to live in them. For example, the same St. Unbelievable things have happened to me several times in St. Petersburg. Cthulhu’s ears grow from every lake and fountain all over Russia. But this is probably ubiquitous and international, after all, Kafka was not a merchant of the state of Kostroma.

Edward Verkin
Edward Verkin

– Critics compare “snark” with the works of King and the Strugatskys. Reminded me of “Swamp” and “Crystal”.

– I didn’t watch “Swamp”, I watched “Crystal”, it was still in the editing phase of the novel. The stories are somewhat similar, but in “Crystal” a realistic hideous brutality is told without mysticism.

Do you remember King? Yes, I am comparing myself. It seems to me that the main difference was that King tried to personify evil as much as possible. “This” is a grim satire in which a progressive young writer denounces the wounds of American society. He embodied them in Pennywise and his masks to facilitate perception.

In Snark, by contrast, there seems to be no obvious embodiment of evil. Snark is everywhere, on every shoulder, in every corner. In general, it’s worth remembering that King was inspired by Bradbury and Washington Irving. In other words, everyone somehow stands on the shoulders of their predecessors.

– Speaking of breaking the wounds of society. What topics did you want to bring up in your novel? In the end, your hero is indifferent to everything…

– Yes, the problem of indifference in our world is very relevant. As well as the info bubble issue. The action of the first part of “Snark” takes place in 2001 – at that time, the large and accessible Internet began to develop rapidly in our country. And gradually a situation arose when any truth was hidden behind icebergs of versions, distortions, information garbage. In the context of the resulting gradual media loading, people learned to forget very quickly. The news feed is changing and what is happening is of little concern.

There is a novel by Philip Dick called The Blurred; here the protagonist is wearing a hi-tech chatter suit that glows hundreds of faces per minute, including his own. No one knows what he really looks like. That’s why we don’t know the true face of the reality around us.

– Snark’s hero is an unreliable narrator, he doesn’t believe himself either. Did you do it in a way that highlights the fragility of truth?

– There is a term – “doublethink”, when people can think in two different directions at once, while being absolutely convinced of their sincerity. Often “doublethink” is associated with politics, but is much more common in everyday life. When you stay in this state for many years, you become insecure about yourself.

Hook ends are scattered in “Snark” from the first episodes. But if the hero paid attention to them, the reader would immediately understand what happened, and there would be no detective story. But the character doesn’t notice them and is aware of some things that were overlooked in the first book, only in the second book. This is such a technique of the detective genre.

Edward Verkin
Edward Verkin

– You started out as a young writer and now you write detective stories. How do you feel about yourself? A return to youth literature?

– I feel myself without any change. They represent me in different ways: a children’s writer, a young writer, a prose writer, a science fiction writer. But adolescence is better – we need to support our youth and children’s literature. It’s important to him now.

– Why Russian youth and children’s literature does not reach the world level? Don’t we have the talent? Or something else?

– Personally, I think our children’s and youth literature is number one in the world. Western does not reach quality. We have competitions – “Kniguru”, “New Children’s Book”, the competition named after S. Mikhalkov, the Krapivin Prize and others. There is an interesting, rich, rich, serious literary life living there!

You ask why this is not interesting to the world? It would be good for the world – this is also not particularly interesting in our country. Our beautiful children’s literature exists in a vacuum. There are writers, librarians, readers, but you turn on the TV and for the thousandth time they say you are not in Russia. If it is not seen in the country, how will it be seen abroad? Today’s highly successful children’s writers feel second-rate when dealing with “adults.” This has been going on for decades.

I have a book called The Procession of the Cloud, which has received many awards, has been reprinted six times and is included in the school curriculum. Translated once for 10 years of existence – into Arabic. Maybe it’s because we have very good Soviet children’s literature, which hinders us a bit. And so … Russian children’s literature in general has a golden age. Only a few people know this.

Source: Ria

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