Bewildering Stories discusses...
with Mickey J. Corrigan
Wow! I was pleased to find you have been serializing Natan Dubovitsky’s Near Zero, the satirical account of Russian life that is purported to be by a Kremlin insider writing under a pen name. I was looking for the novel a while back and couldn’t find an English translation. This one is terrific. A gripping read and so funny, yet an accurate playbook for the American autocracy at this point.
If the author is indeed Vladislav Surkov, I think he has wasted his literary talents working for the regime. He’s an astute and gifted novelist. I laughed out loud a number of times at the realistic absurdity of his observations. I’ve taken the liberty of listing below some of my favorite lines (so far).
Congratulations on including this novel in your publication. I’m honored to have my work in issues in which Near Zero appears.
Some favorite lines:
Ch 2: In the Nineties, the element bruised from injections began to disappear, gradually shot down by young, progressive-thinking police officers.
Ch 3: The restaurant was occupied by models chewing on food. These were the latest versions of our national babes, configured in unheard-of ways, modernized, having gone through careful pre-sale preparation, and now mixed in among connoisseurs and buyers.
Ch 5: The father of his ex-wife came down with the rarest of diseases, one treated with experimental American pills at an exorbitant price, such as only a socially responsible business is capable of extorting legally from the hopelessly ill.
Ch 8: Yegor pitied her with pathetic pity, the kind you feel early in life for your toys and, later, for all women you get to know intimately.
Ch 10: I am now forming an organization which in polite society would be called a mafia, but in ours, I don’t know what to call it.
Ch 22: The detective returned later that evening. I didn’t recognize him at first. He had put on weight and grown a beard. “You’ve changed,” I said.
“I’m someone else,” he replied. “My colleague is very busy and assigned me to give you the report of our investigation.”
Mickey J. Corrigan
[Don W.] Thank you, Mickey! If I may return the compliment, I think your “Trigger Warnings” are America’s Near Zero. The two stories are both provocative.
The two are very different in structure, of course. Near Zero is like a series of chapters that are related thematically, at best. “Trigger Warnings” is really a long short story, and its structure is that of a diary. For that reason, I want to cram it all into the spring quarter rather than let it be interrupted in mid-flight by the Second Quarterly Review.
I foresee that “Trigger Warnings” will “pull the triggers” of a lot of readers. Some will find Springfield Andrisson — and, possibly, everyone in the story — appalling. Others will sympathize with her, and still others will take her as a call to arms, whether literally or figuratively.
I’ll try to keep up with the story in the Challenges, which are typically conversation-starters. Sadly, most authors and readers are unaware of them. Nonetheless, I want to be able to say at the end that they’ve given everyone fair warning.