IT'S ME, EDDIE by Edward Limonov


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An episodic ""fictional memoir,"" originally published in Russian in 1978, by a youngish ÉmigrÉ poet living in New York City. ""I am on welfare. I live at your expense, you pay taxes and I don't do a fucking thing."" So says bitter, narcissistic, self-pitying Eddie--who narrates a series of encounters (mostly sexual) in an oddly translated prose-mixture of obscenity, tin-eared slang, and tirade. Frustrated with his writing career in Russia (""what I did would never reach the masses""), Eddie has come to America for creative freedom. . . only to find utter misery. No one's interested in his work. His wife Elena has left him for a decadent American career as a fashion model: ""she has a cunt, for which there are buyers--you--and I don't have a cunt."" And the ""system"" in the US, he finds, is just as oppressive as the one back home: ""We shag-assed over here, and having seen what the life is like, many if not all would shag-ass fight back. . . ."" So Eddie hates America, hates his occasional demeaning jobs (e.g., as a hotel-restaurant busboy), and hates women. His post-Elena liaisons with women are unsatisfying: a non-sexual involvement with American radical Carol (""her party was nothing but a Petit-bourgeois study group""); a rough time with Jewish, non-orgasmic Sonya (""I'm going to buy you an artificial member, and I'm going to fuck you with it until you fall off the bed""); a particularly unpleasant interlude with Russian-speaking Roseanne. Instead, Eddie finds pseudo-epic fulfillment with black men he meets on the street: dangerous Chris (""I did not merely accommodate his strong thick cock in my mouth, no, this love we were engaged in, these actions, symbolized much more--to me they symbolized life. . . I was receiving communion from his cock""); and bum Johnny--""punk, filth of the streets, panhandler, least of the least,"" a preachily symbolic underclass-figure who ""tenderly kissed my cock, laughed with me, clasped me to him, kissed my poopka and shoulders."" And finally, after a walk around Manhattan and re-humiliation from Elena, Eddie discourses to himself on ""the injustice of a world in which one who loves is not fucking needed"". . . and signs off by weepily saying to the buildings of Madison Ave.: ""Fuck you, you cocksucking bastards!"" Here and there, Limonov writes effectively in the Russian tradition of grimly comic despair/irony; and the glimpses of ÉmigrÉ life at its most disillusioned or sordid are intriguing. But for the most part this is a tedious whine of a memoir/novel--with neither the zest of a picaresque nor the emotional drama of an absorbing self-portrait.

Pub Date: July 4th, 1983
Publisher: Random House