Andrei Navrozov

Andrei Navrozov

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Wednesday’s Child: A Gnostic Mixology (FREE)

It must be the time of year.  Friends and acquaintances keep sending me novels, asking for my opinion as if I were a cocktail taster in a bar with a pernickety and occasionally abusive clientele – a gay one, presumably.  Last week I nearly died after taking a swig of mendacious absurdity.  This week’s concoction is very different. The brew that has been set before me has as its base a Gnostic cosmogony.  And, since its style is tongue-in-cheek urbane, colloquial and hip, there is in the mix an equal amount of Hollywood brooding on the meaninglessness of life, as...

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Wednesday’s Child: Profanation, Plagiarism, Pastiche

Several people had told me this was a novel worth reading, and one of them had it sent from Amazon, so the trap was sprung and I walked right into it. Well, not exactly.  I’ve been around the block a few times, having savaged well over a thousand new books in my day, and the reviewer’s equivalent of Oscar Wilde’s dictum to the effect that only the very shallow do not judge by appearances is consequently never far from my mind. To judge a book by its cover is not an eccentric foible, it’s as close to a human right...

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Wednesday’s Child: Babbaluci News

I often plead indigence in this space, never forgetting to identify its root cause as indolence, and these days the darn thing seems to be getting out of hand.  Of course I could write a blockbuster novel, or else get silicone implants and start posting bikini selfies on Instagram, but, fortunately, all this takes work and indolence stands in for conscience to put its foot down.  Perhaps a decorative position, a sinecure of some kind, could improve matters, and so I thought of ordering business cards that would suggest an affiliation with some fictitious enterprise of moment. After some reflection,...

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Wednesday’s Child: “Class A” Democracy

We have municipal elections coming up in Palermo, a feast of democratic disingenuousness that happens every five years when a raft of corpulent men with moustaches gets replaced, from the mayor on downwards, with another raft of corpulent men with moustaches.  There are posters of these hopefuls all about town, and my wife says the men in the photographs look like actors who have been asked to portray the Seven Deadly Sins – except, of course, there are many more than that number in the race, so every sin has about a dozen understudies. Some wear glasses, I’ve noticed, which...

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Wednesday’s Child: One-Upmannship

This is my eighty-seventh Wednesday’s Child, and I’ve always prided myself on posting these tearjerkers of mine on time – except this week, when I didn’t.  Appealing to our sainted editor’s sense of scribblers’ camaraderie, I pleaded that I’d had my mind on other things and my body in too many places to be able to produce something intelligible, in short, that I’d been uncommonly busy.  The sainted editor fired back, reminding me of the Amos and Andy episode in which the loafer is lectured on the stress of modern life, with the peroration running something like this: “First you...

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Wednesday’s Child: Damned if We Do, Damned if We Don’t

I cannot but agree with my learned friend Dr. Fleming, who writes in response to last week’s post – where I suggested that the official explanations of a recent terror bombing, which the Russian blogosphere unanimously rejects, may be intentionally implausible – “Give me the serenity to ignore what I do not know.”  My instinctive concurrence with my friend’s apophthegm, however, comes with an autobiographical caveat. The Russian émigré grandmother of an acquaintance of mine, a Hohenlohe by birth, refused to come out of her house in Rio de Janeiro to look at Sputnik, which everybody said could be seen...

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Wednesday’s Child: A Blast of Cynicism

Say what you will, democracy has a responsible side.  Hardly anybody in America believed the findings of the Warren Commission, but you can never argue it was for want of trying on the part of its members, or for that matter on the part of those who had organized the assassination.  In totalitarian countries, by contrast, a lie is thought to be wasted on the populace unless it’s a white lie, and a conspiracy that is convincingly covered up is simply not worth the blood of the victims. So it is with the news of the recent blast in the...

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Wednesday’s Child: The Möbius Syndrome

The Möbius strip, twisting back on itself in an endless loop, is how most people visualize the past, present, and – consequently – future of civilization. This seamless plane of recurrence is punctuated by popular historical concepts, such as “tyranny,” “slavery,” “war,” “revolution,” “famine,” “torture,” or else by such allegedly universal memes as “family,” “happiness”, or “wealth.”  Even those hysterically optimistic punters who believe that the history of civilization is progressive – which would imply that its topography is less like the closed loop than like an upwardly mobile parabola – cannot escape the pervasive myth of endless recurrence enshrined...

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Wednesday’s Child: The Old and the Reckless

Last week I mentioned Lampedusa.  Scion of a princely family who wrote his only book aged 58 and did not live to see it published or declared a masterwork of world literature, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa would have inherited his ancestral palazzo in Palermo – about a hundred yards from my house – had it not been for an Allied bomb that leveled it.  Later he moved to another splendid palazzo nearby, because, as the Serbs say, “caviar is eaten not by those who can afford it, but by those who are used to it,” a wise adage that I...

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Wednesday’s Child: A Magic Mountain

Our precious Mount Etna, which happens to be the tallest volcano in Europe, has been exploding, with streams of molten lava descending into the Valle del Bove from elevations of some three kilometers at the crater’s rim.  A BBC team of reporters nearly didn’t make it down, which showed them that nature could be as violent as the teenage drug lords and tattooed single mothers they had been used to interviewing in their line of duty. ‘“a Muntagna,” the locals call it in dialect – the Mountain with a capital M – as attested by a man named Gaetano Perricone,...