Limonov by Emmanuel Carrere

Limonov by Emmanuel Carrere

French fiction

Translator – John Lambert

Original title – Limonov

Source – Personnel copy


I dreamed I saw Phil Ochs last night
Alive as you and me
Says I to Phil, “You’re ten years dead
“I never died”, says he
“I never died”, says he

The music business killed you Phil
They ignored the things you said
And cast you out when fashions changed
Says Phil, “But I ain’t dead”
Says Phil, “But I ain’t dead”

The FBI harassed you Phil
They smeared you with their lies
Says he, “But they could never kill
What they could not compromise
I never compromised”

I choose this Billy Bragg lyric  as it was like this book a singer paying tribute to another singer . As Carrere had done with Limonov .

Well he almost made it onto the blog a few years ago . As I had a tip his last book may have made the iffp longlist I read it . But it missed longlist and had to return to library before I could review it . So this time I got his book as a gift from family . Emmanuel Carrere is a French writer and screen writer . He has been writing since the early 1980’s , he has had a number of his books translated and made into films . He won the Prix renaudot for this particular book . His most famous book is like a French version of in cold blood  . A  book called the adversary  , which saw him in contact with a serial killer in France . This book was also made into a film .

This dandyism is also what he likes about Jazz musicians his new friends so idolizes . He has no affinity for music , and never will . But he does start reading again . He’d stopped at Jules Verne and Alexandre Dumas ; now he starts again with Jack London and Knut Hamsun , the grand vagabonds who plied every trade and embellished their novels with these experiences .

Limonov growing up in the Ukraine , growing as a reader .

Limonov is a hard book to pigeonhole . Is it a novel or is it a biography ? You see it is the story of the Russian writer Eduard Limonov . Now if you had to pick a writer to write about . Eduard Limonov life is a perfect choice . From his early years in Russia through new York , Paris and Serbia .We see him returning to the Soviet union just as it starts to fall apart . Limonov himself at this point becomes involved in the politics of the falling apart Eastern bloc .First in Serbia , whom he supported at the time the Serbian war was happening . Then he returns to Russia and becomes involved in their politics . As he supports the far right National Bolshevik party .

Pawel Pawlikowski is a Polish born British filmmaker  with whom I share many interests, and whom I’ve run into several times while writing this book . He made a moving documentary about the last months of Venichka Erofeev’s life  – remember , the hero of the Brezhnevian underground  . Poverty- stricken , destitute , alcoholic , and ravaged by cancer , Erofeev cuts a figure that Limonov would judge without pity but which had me in tears .

Strange read this the day after Pawlikowski won the Oscar for the best foreign film .

I was reminded of another French writer Frederic Beigbeder . I have reviewed two of his books . One of which The french novel was  a tribute to Carrere own novel the Russian Novel .(according to Beidbeger tribute site in France ) . Eduard Limonov is an interesting subject for the book . His life has seen him move from one side to another on the political spectrum . It has also seen him travel the world in Exile . This is the life of a writer .It is in his early years you see Carrere attraction to Limonov . A shared spirit as a reader , he loved French fiction Limonov Verne and Dumas were his heroes  growing up . But in a way Limonov is also the perfect flawed character . His later life has seen him involved in the far right Russian nationalist party . A strange event during the reading of the book was that Ida won the Best foreign film at the Oscars . The director of that film crops up in this book .I was also left want to try Limonov’s book has anyone read him ?


June 2021


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