At the tail end of 2012, my short story was published in The Fat City Review. Happy as a clam, I emailed a few friends the following – appropriately self-deprecating – note. (I quote myself with author’s reluctant permission):
The other day, I carved a short story out of my magnum opus and it got published in The Fat City Review . Please check it out Russian Pulp. Miniscule achievement, all things considered, but laudations and congratulations are expected, starting immediately.
Cute, no? As expected, every other recipient sent congratulatory note of some sort. Hard to say how many of my Russian friends actually read the story or visited The Fat City Review site. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I’ve got an email from an acquaintance who wasn’t included in my mailing list but got my humble announcement from a friend of a friend (repeat 3 more times). It says this, and I quote with few omissions:
« he was a cliché» but not every cliché is K. Tarantino. It is very ugly prose, but, I hope, [the name of someone with extreme left views] would appreciate the scum describing Russians oligarchs and their naked girlfriends. Hopefully left radicals paid off thirty pieces of silver to the Russian origin poor writer.
K. Tarantino, obviously, should be Q. Tarantino. Since in Russian there is no one-letter representation of the sound Q we often substitute it for Kv, thus Quentin becomes Kventin.
Never mind Kventin, though. A cooler person would’ve thought that some opinions are – speaking in Latin, the language of cool people – non gradus anus rodentum, or, in a language of uncool people, not worth a rat’s ass. I’m uncool to a power of ten, thus I was stunned. For life of me, I meant no ill will to any oligarch, and, in spite of the profusion of blood and gut, the story was, well, humorous. Humor, you know. Black humor. Kventin Tarantino would understand.
I needed some measure of moral support and I needed it immediately. The friends of the friends of the friends of my detractor needed reassurance that I’m, generally, against violence and the use of Short Range Mark II Pineapple Fragmentation grenades on people, oligarchs or not.
I begged Kventin (I’ll call him that for the duration of this post to preserve his anonymity) to take it easy, promising to do everything in my power to prevent any of my shared little joyful news ever reaching him in the future.
God knows, I must’ve been not convincing enough, for – much to the amusement of those who got into the loop – Kventin switched to Russian and kept on brining wrath on my head. Loosely translated:
“Your little joys flow into the ocean of stupidity, threatening to become a Deluge. Should the last name of the oligarch be changed from Russian to foreign, the price of your creation would be immediately banished to the bin of deeply discounted goods.”
More people got involved. There were emails denouncing Kventin for lack of sense of humor, emails in support of Kventin’s conservative views, emails praising my sense of humor and mastery of English language (it took me only 30-odd years but look at me now!) and emails having nothing to do with either Kventin, the story or the oligarchs.
“Food for thought is often hard to chew and rarely edible!”
gushed one philosophically inclined Russian friend, hoping to console me. That’s a compliment, all right, but undeserved at best. I never (honestly!) considered myself much of a cook of someone else’s food for thought. In the absence of a good company, I consume even my own either pre-cooked or straight from a tin can. Easy on the brain, if you will.
To this day I get feedback. Some people, you see, were too busy with the holidays to get into the discussion.
It has become an axiom of late that ANY publicity is better than obscurity for people who write and really like it when others care to read their writing. And I’ve got some, thanks to Kventin. Go and figure. Bad publicity? Bring it on!
S Novym Godom! No, this isn’t Latin but transliteration of Russian – С Новым Годом! Happy New Year!
My Smile page has a few new pearls of Russian humor, the humor that most Russians appreciate most of the time, while some Russians… some of the time…don’t get it at all.