Under House Arrest

Yevgeny Kharitonov, Author, Arch Tait, Translator, Evgeniii Kharitonov, Author Serpent's Tail $13.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-85242-355-1
In this posthumous collection, the first-ever English translation of his autobiographical short stories, Kharitonov (1941-1981) invites comparisons with Kafka in his critique of the ponderous Soviet bureaucracy (as in ""A Tenant Applied to the Housing Department"") and with William S. Burroughs in his disjointed exploration of a tortured gay love triangle. In ""Tears for One Strangled and Dead,"" the author recounts his ill-fated obsessions and cynical despair in fearless, fragmentary prose mixed with scraps of free-verse poetry. To American readers, these pieces may seem dated, as several of these pre-AIDS stories detail a young gay man's furtive trips to the VD clinic for syphilis treatment, once hoping to find a girl who will agree to go on the record as the source of his infection. The repression and self-loathing of Soviet gay life Kharitonov depicts have much in common with pre-Stonewall homosexuality in the U.S. The narrator of these short pieces is by turns sarcastic, camp and caustic, with a highly disturbing penchant for anti-Semitic rhetoric. Often his rage at his own persecuted condition expresses itself in a vicious kind of misogyny, most of his venom directed at attractive young men who claim a heterosexual bias as they casually bed other men. Many selections have the feel of notes toward a finished work, or of passages from a rambling larger composition. One wonders what passionate outsider Kharitonov might have accomplished in a time and place more accepting of homosexuality. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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