Saturday, October 24, 2009

4. Books

Imagine, if you will -- you arrive to a different country and decide that you would like to check your e-mail, only to find out that they have no internet. None at all! No computers, no blogs, no LOLcats, or what have you.
That horror and desolation you feel is the same as that of a Russian arriving to a country where people proudly proclaim that they don't read (i.e. the U.S.).
"Not even Dumas? No 'Karlsson-on-the-Roof'? No 'Moomintrolls'?" they will ask, and with each shake of the head, their little Russian hearts will flutter and sink deeper into denial.

In Russia, nearly every home has at least one book case filled with books -- at the very least classics like Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Dumas. Even the Russian homeless have book cases -- in fact, if they have nothing else, they will at least have some cardboard and a bookcase. (This is a lie) When worst comes to worst, they eat a couple of pages for dinner -- classics for protein, fantasy as a salad, and romances for desert. (This is a lie as well). Polar bears are well known to drink vodka while roaming in hordes throughout Russia, where it is always wintertime. (Now I'm telling the truth. How did you know?)

A Russian likes to hang out in places with multiple bookcases -- the more, the better. Thinking of asking out a Russian? Take him/her to the library. Want to make a business deal with a Russian? Do it in the back of a bookstore. Want to go to the beach with your Russian S.O.? Bring some full book cases with you and drag them out into the sea or ocean -- preferably in an interesting formation. You can talk about the moldy books later.

Russians scorn people who prefer to watch movies rather than read books. You didn't see hundreds of Russians show up in your local movie theater when "Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix" was showing, did you? No, you did not. Actually, you may not see hundreds of Russians anyway, unless you live in Russia, but that's probably because they've been driven into hiding by their neighbours' inability to recall the main character from "The Last of the Mohicans". And how can you blame them?

In order to understand the Russian soul, you must read. Go to the library and get about 40 books. Brew yourself some strong black tea, eat a piece of "bird's milk" cake, and start on "La Dame de Monsoreau" by Dumas. Or at least "Mary Poppins" if you're that against the main character dying violently, but remember, the Russian soul is a suffering one. Try to suffer just a little -- imagine Mary Poppins beating you with her umbrella, or forcing you to climb up a chimney full of pins.

No comments:

Post a Comment