Light from eternal darkness: about Yegor Fetisov's novel "The Emptiness of Bootes"

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Light from eternal darkness: about Yegor Fetisov's novel "The Emptiness of Bootes"
Light from eternal darkness: about Yegor Fetisov's novel "The Emptiness of Bootes"
24 May, 17:11Culture
The author likens his heroes to the stars, the light of which will sooner or later break through the cosmic void.

Anna Berseneva, writer

The event contour of Yegor Fetisov's novel "The Emptiness of the Bootes" (Moscow: Publishing House Gorodets. 2021) is as old as the world: a love triangle. Philologist Anton Makedonov lives in St. Petersburg. His youth is behind him, his life has acquired features of certainty, which can hardly be considered an achievement. He earned money by tutoring and literary translations, but did not become an outstanding translator. There is no stable income. There are no friends either. Tries to write prose. He lives in an apartment rented by his girlfriend Varya, an illustrator of children's books. He understands that all these circumstances cannot be ignored, despite the fact that he and Varya are bound by mutual love. In general, when Igor Arkasov, a former classmate and friend of Makedonov, who lives in Norway, arrives, the attraction between Igor and Varya seems to be a natural development of events.

But it is impossible in principle to reduce what is happening to only one eventuality. The reality of this novel is not limited to the psychology of the heroes, which is spelled out with impeccable subtlety. Here Makedonov “expects that she will call from work every half hour, to find out how he is, where he is, whether he thinks about her. "Mac, do you think of me?" And hang up. Then an endless circle of rainbow colors starts, because a person does not need so much. A person needs very little. A ray of light in the dark kingdom is what a person needs. Pathetic, but true. Pathetic, but to the point. In which space and time converge”. But Vara “wanted to turn the world upside down, turtles up, and this, of course, was the fault of Mac, who was always stuck at the computer, not trying to make her life unique. And she wanted a unique life, she could admit it to herself. More precisely, sometimes she wanted to, and sometimes she didn't, she was a fickle nature".

The author does not focus his attention on external details (for whom they do not correspond to the sickening definition of "tasty"!), Giving them a natural volume and allowing the outside world to appear in the text not only diverse, but also pondered as it appears:

“Outside the window, a gang of fieldbirds was hanging out, apparently eating the remains of the currants that had not yet fallen in the front garden. Varya washed herself under the washstand, wondering how time has not yet ousted the nineteenth century from the twenty-first".

Ideas are not emphasized either - they arise with that brief precision that does not require pedaling:

“Our president spoke just now at the next twenty, it seems, and said that liberalism has outlived its usefulness.

“You have a king”, - Makedonov forged him.

“We have a tsar”, - retorted Igor. - Listen to the thought, actually. It was all the same the year I left. And what does liberalism mean, if so, on the fingers, simpler? Freedom is. And you are told the official point of view of the state - freedom has outlived its usefulness and in fig is not needed, in fact, - and society does not take to the streets the next day and is not indignant. So, in fact, in general, this is for everyone ... it suits everyone. And in general, I do not mind, in the end, society itself decides what priorities it has. That is, what is important to him, - he corrected himself. - It just doesn't suit me personally. I have to live in other lands. Although this is still a foreign land, - he added. “You don’t understand that”.

Such a rich layering - of details, characters, thoughts - in itself makes the text artistically complete. In the novel there are many scenes that are stunning in their brightness - and the winter hunt, on which his father takes little Igor with him, and the whaling, which Arkasov is engaged in in Norway, and the trip of Makedonov and Vary to Mount Fuji, and Makedonov's night conversation with a long-forgotten classmate on the names Badger, and the unexpectedly prophetic divination of Vare the deceiving gypsy, and an endless set of events, including those that relate to the life of the writer Vetov invented by Macedonov, and those that happen to the heroes in a dream. Each character is expressive, each has his own and only his "tentacles-suckers, with which he, like an octopus, clings to the world around him"...

But the strength of this diversity lies in the fact that it is not self-sufficient.

That which is clearly the main thing for the author, which in some sense overshadows, or rather, makes both the external and the inner world of the heroes meaningful, is embodied in the image that Igor first learns about from his father just during the memorable (and almost fatal for him) hunting:

“- A person burns, burns all his life on the sly, and a handful of ash remains from him.

Igor asked his dad if he was afraid of turning into ash. Dad said it wasn't scary. And it doesn't hurt at all. Simply a person comes from emptiness and returns to emptiness. In a sense, familiar to him emptiness. The void of Bootes. Where the constellation of Bootes is, it seems that there is nothing at all. Not a single galaxy. In fact, there are several dozen of them, something like sixty. Moreover, it is discovered. At first, only eight were found. So there might be millions or billions of them. Not yet discovered. This happens most often in life: even when it seems to you that you are surrounded by absolute emptiness, there will always be something in it, just take a closer look, do not rush to despair, let your eyes get used to it, some stars always shine, no matter how complete it seems darkness. You will not understand this now, but try to remember it, and someday you, perhaps, will remember my words, and they will help you to hold out on the surface".

These words Igor Arkasov recalls later all his life. A giant cosmic entrance, a space in which there are no or almost no galaxies, it is unknown how matter is arranged, the other world, where souls migrate and where a new life is then born, explains to him - and through him and to those who are connected with him - and his own device, and the structure of the world as a whole, and the meaning of each of its details.

Makedonov recalls how his friend in his youth came up with “the theory that every person is like a star. People read some Flaubert, but he has long been gone. Only light reaches them. As text. And so with everyone, without exception. It's just that there are stars brighter and less bright, and so are people. But light comes from everyone. Arkasov convinced Makedonov that, in comparison with Pushkin or Van Gogh, there are much more dull people, millions of times, probably. And then they are not visible to the naked eye, they seem to be empty intergalactic blackness. But in fact, they are there inside this blackness, it's just that their light has not yet reached us. And maybe it never will. But this does not mean that this light does not exist".

This emptiness is intelligible not only to Arkasov. An old Japanese writer also talks about her and Makedonova, who invites them to visit when Varya illustrates his children's book: “This is the emptiness of the highest point, when the swing soars as high as possible and stops for a moment to start moving again. This is the void between the very end and the beginning of the new. Perhaps the most creative thing that a person can experience. Peak. Her peak. It is impossible to stay on it for a long time, there is nothing and no one there, but from there you can see everything that was, and something of what will be. And this is all that we are given to understand, because a person cannot correct the past or create the future. Everything we create is empty shells, but someday, perhaps, a hermit crab will crawl into them and settle there. But, of course, not forever".

A book is written about this by the writer Vetov, whom Makedonov invented, or rather, saw with his inner gaze: “This should be a slow book about life and about death, about death inside life and about life inside death, a kind of nesting doll, the Japanese tradition of dolls, inserted by one in the other, the largest of them - Anya herself, she contains everything: Vetov, his future book, the deserted night city, passing cars, stars existing on the other side of the clouds".

It is not known if such a book could ever be written. Could Macedons and Varya, who love each other in some incompatible way, miss each other in their lives? Can the restless hunter Igor Arkasov find love? Is something really born in the great emptiness, where everything goes.

Yegor Fetisov's novel "The Emptiness of Bootes" does not provide answers to the main questions - his strong, woefully and subtly executed plan does not allow doing this. But after reading it just comes the understanding that the search for answers of the present level is vital for a person.

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