Russia | 2000
A literary critic and dissident writer, Victor Erofeev contributed to the 1979 collection Metropol, which led to his banning from Soviet print until the Gorbachev era. Russian Beauty, his first novel, was published in English 1993. He has contributed pieces to the New Yorker, and his collection of short stories, Life With An Idiot, is in the process of being translated. He lives in Moscow.
My short report on my experience at the Gregor von Rezzori and Beatrice Monti della Corte Retreat for Writers and Botanists may seem like a spring song. I did like your place, a special corner where every window looks like a picture full of simple and powerful beauty. The food, the wine, the talks, the guests, were part of the culture I was familiar with–and not, at the same time. The whole thing was very sweet for a Russian writer who used to think that life is a tough and funny problem. I liked the walks around the place, and my brief visits to Florence and other cities–in Tuscany everything is so close and open.
And I’ve become very interested in the figure of Grisha whose presence is always there, mystically and aesthetically. I went away with a feeling that I’ve got a new dimension of the goût de la vie.
I worked a lot; still it’s not simple to write in a very beautiful place: there are too many seductions, so if to write there it’s better to write something good. I wrote for Americans, Germans, Russians–mostly essays and articles and a short story already published in my country. I thought a lot about my new novel for Viking in New York.
Don’t improve anything. Maybe sometimes the weather in the hills, but how and what for?