The Business Of The Dead
I was in desperate need of money to finance very important political project. I wrote proposition and I have given and sended it to very important people who might be concerned about that project of mine. Very Important People reacted slowly and cautiously. Some of them were (and still are) irritated and frightened by Putin's unpredictable moves against oligarchs, so they would say, "Listen, Limonov, call me in the end of the month, then situation will be clearer." Some would respond with a fearful advice "to stop it before they will smash your head." In general, I discovered that is a great deal of fear now in the midst of Very Important People. It is not a good time to ask them about money. I am completely disagreed with VIP's attitude to be a helpless victims, to sit and wait when Putin will take over their riches and will give to non-important people in order to make them important. Time is ripe for radical projects—I am absolutely convinced. But Very Important People are not convinced.
I decided to make money myself. I was fortunate enough to know few Russian publishers. I call to one of them and I said, "Listen, dear publisher, I want to propose you a good deal, a book about the dead." Publisher said "Yes, I am interested." Actually, every publisher knows that the dead are best possible commodities to sell. People are totally interested in dead. They can kill for a letter of poet Pushkin to his wife Natalie, full of obscenities. For an entire year 1999, Moscow's government, Russian Federal government, newspapers, radios, television channels have sold that very dead old Pushkin to the masses. Thousands of sculptures been produced, thousands of books all over the country been published, heaps of money been earned. At first sight it seems that everything is known to Russians about Pushkin. But what Russians, which generation exactly knows about Pushkin? Because new consumers waves of Russians, generation after generation are coming to the age of reading and again and again they consume, they avidly consume Pushkin! Dead Pushkin is as profitable as oil wells in Saudi Arabia.
So, I decided to sell my dead. Actually, selling the dead is our national business. The very best book of Russian literature is Gogol's Dead Souls. It is equally national Russian book as Melville's Moby Dick for Americans. It's about Russian business, about art of cheating, about corruption, it should be read every morning before entire cabinet of ministers of Russian Federation. Because it is about Russian life. Dead Souls is our national mirror—it is written for Eternity, at every elections I see many thousands of dear Mr. Chichikov's buying the dead souls. Every Russian public building, every Russian organization have full set of characters from Dead Souls. Oh, Gogol, he is great!
"Who you want to put in your book?" asked Publisher.
"Of course Brodsky, Joseph," said I.
"Good, good," said Publisher. He knows that dead Brosky is already feeding considerable number of people, hundreds of supposed friends, thousands of professors at universities, all over the globe. "Who else?" asked Publisher.
"Mayakovsky's lovers: Lilia Brik and Tatyana Yakovleva."
"Good, good," said Publisher. Because women sell well. Overwhelming majority of readers are women, and they like to read about their own breed, especially about those who succeeded in making man's life miserable.
"And others, who they are, and how many of them?" asked Publisher.
"I counted 38, amongst them such people as Salvador Dali…."
"Who's that one?" asked Publisher.
"That guy who just been killed in plane crash in Sheremetyevo, the editor of Sovershenno Sekretno."
"Ah, Artyom Borovik, unexplained crash… good."
Publisher sounded as if he is tasting my dead with his lips, sniffs them and licks them. "Who else?"
"Serbian fighter Arkan," I said.
"That bandit," said Publisher with a doubt in his voice.
"Exotic life, beautiful women around, his private army, he owned some hotels, gas stations, even football club."
"All right," said publisher. "And?"
"Colonel Kostenko, dead in Transdniestr, in 1992."
"Why do you need that one?"
I didn't see him by telephone, of course, but I bet he was grimacing with disgust.
"Brave soldier, however lonely one, accused of numerous killings, anarchist fighter, killed by General Lebed's orders, under unclear circumstances."
"It is going to be too many soldiers," said Publisher.
"After his killing, his corpse was cut in two in order to transfer his ‘bust' in trunk of Zaporozhets car to Odessa to Institute of Pathology and Anatomy."
"All right," he said. My bait worked beautifully. No publisher will resist charming little story about sawing a human corpse in two, in order to transfer one part of corpse to Odessa.
"Then it gonna be in the book Yuri Yegorov, you probably have heard of him, pianist, musician."
"I heard something," murmured Publisher. "But what exactly is he famous for?"
"Virtuoso piano player. Once he performed at Carnegie Hall two sets of Chopin's etudes."
"So what?" said Publisher.
"He is dead in such a rare, beautiful manner. As Socrates, he drunk a bowl of hemlock. He had invited his friends, women, put the flower baskets everywhere. Then drank little bit of hemlock, talk, then drank again."
"All right. We will take him."
One by one, all my dead were approved by him. Of course, I have cheated him a little. I saw my dead, I burned them to make them interesting for him.
So, I got an advance money, signed contract and at present I am writing a book about the dead. About my dead. I write from 10 to 17 pages every day. Because it is easy to write about dead. They are predictable. I am going to finish my Book of the Dead in a few weeks. I will collect the second half of payment, and I will proceed with my project. What will produce some more fresh beautiful heroical dead, maybe my own also.
Esoteric philosopher Gurdeyev have believed that human dead are feeding the moon.
Each man going to be a dead