— 442 с.
— (Серія: graffiti/ґрафіті).
— м.Харків. — Наклад 2000 шт.
ББК: 84.4 УКР В71
— Романи, новели та оповідання
Місце - пролетарське Запоріжжя, Другий Шевченківський мікрорайон.
Час - кінець вісімдесятих, дивна суміш свободи й несвободи.
Людина - його кличуть Павло, Паша, Пашок, як іноді каже найкращий друг Єгор, Павличко. Він чекає...
Чекає, що його "життя на 140 рублів", які платять у художній майстерні заводу, колись зміниться.
Але як це зробити, Пашок не знає.
Місце, час і людина разом - герої роману "Кляса" Павла Вольвача, сильної і правдивої оповіді про життя індустріального міста. Це те, що варто читати...
Лінк із зображенням книжки:
By Pavlo Volvach
The Class is a chronicle of just one day in the life of a youth from a large industrial center of the Ukrainian South. It all happens sometime at the beginning of the 1990’s, at the turning point of history between two epochs. The Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse. A premonition of great changes and upheavals is in the air. The main hero Pashok also has that feeling. He is a young man, in his early twenties, and he comes from, and is still living in a workers’ district at the outskirts of Zaporizhya – a poor neighborhood teeming with outcasts and criminals, ... [ Показати весь уривок ]
“the boys,” where life still continues “as usual.” For many of them this day, like most other days, begins near the beer hall “Grill Bar” and ends in a cheap restaurant officially named “Youth” but commonly called “Bida .” Such is the setting in which Pashok lives a day in his life. He likes “the boys” and regards himself as “one of the boys” but he is tormented by Hamlet-style questions. What is he? Whither should he go? Whom should he join? He finds it hard to answer these questions, if only because his is a case of split personality. For he is one half gangster, like his closest friend, a drug addict named Yehor, and one half proletarian. He is also a lumpen aesthete.
The door opens slightly, and Pashok slips out of his apartment. The reader follows him into what is his world. It bears no resemblance to the merry world portrayed by the official propaganda. And here begins a rapidly unfolding, absorbing plot that will keep the reader’s attention until the very end of the book.
“The boys” who have been hanging about outside the beer hall from early morning are hunting for “dough” for the booze and some “stuff” to get high on – and looking for trouble. Ben, Batsyk, and Shestopal are very colorful characters that law-abiding citizens had better steer clear of. As a matter of fact, they are present-day Makhnovites born to man machine-gun carts in times of revolutions and civil wars. Now they just do not know what to do with themselves. So they drink, brawl, extort money, engage in swindles and frauds, joke, love, and dream. Pashok, too, will look for adventures. This search will take him to all sorts of places all over the district and the city, get him in and out addicts’ dens and the beds of chance women, expose him to dangerous situations in which he will have to do his best to avoid being stabbed or handcuffed, lead him to the woman he loves and to a political rally – and will cause him, all the time, to walk a tight rope on the brink of crime. And his reflections and recollections will take him back to the past and into the subconscious to provide a panoramic background to the events and offer us an insight into his secret inner world. That other world of his is peopled with quite different figures – anti-Communists, dissidents, the famous anarchist Nestor Makhno, and the finest, still semibanned, Ukrainian poets like Malanyuk and Stus ... It is probably this world that makes Pashok different from “the boys.” But will it hold him back from crime?
The people of The Class are in no way similar to the mythical “builders of Communism” painted on the Party posters which are pasted around the “agitation ground” in Pashok’s yard. To be sure, they are “incorrect,” but unlike the inspired faces on the posters they are real people of real flesh and blood. Here we meet the hard-working George Antonych, the mafioso Arkasha, and Tala, the voluptuous woman Pashok loves and somebody else’s wife. And, of course, the wise ex-convict (“repeater”) Proshka in whom some critics have somehow recognized the recent “official” presidential candidate whose no-nonsense electioneering sparked off the Orange Revolution.
Metaphors of “harsh realism” link the heroes of The Class with those of Jorge Amado’s Sand Captains, Pasolini’s “Ragazzi,” and Bukovsky’s characters... But they are by no means their Ukrainian versions. The Class is an absolutely independent, vigorous, and original work which, as one critic put it, has “altered the face of Ukrainian literature.” It is a work of art that really makes one want to make it part of one’s life.
* * *
Pavlo had already heard that Mohammed was dead. He was shot at night outside the entrance to his staircase. Now the market stall-keepers will be made to cough up the money for the funeral. The collectors surely won’t miss Khomyak’s neighbor from the “Amber” who has to pay regular tributes to the racket, because his shop is registered as a cooperative or something like that, while Khomyak runs a state-owned establishment and just rubs his hands gloatingly each time the neighbor shambles out of Khomyak’s store after crying on his shoulder complaining about the latest levy.
Ours is surely a strange kind of mafia, Pashok often mused. It just couldn’t be that out there in the West all the petty hoodlums and the lowliest macaroni sellers were on the first-name basis with all those godfathers. But the local capi di tutti were really accessible to the common people who seemed to know not only all of them by sight but also the broads with whom they cheated on their wives, and even to keep track of their kids from their second marriages. Even the dilapidated white Mercedes of Pikhota and Artyukh from their neighborhood was met with deferential whispers. Incidentally, Mohammed’s mistress lived in the Second Shevchenko neighborhood unit; his car had often been seen parked in the yard of her building.
Pashok preferred the ascetic ways of mobsters of the good old times which he knew only from yarns supplemented with his own imagination. Those times seemed to him almost idyllic and those muggers quite affable. On coal-black wooly nights when only rails glistened in the faint moonlight, those likeable individuals would go out on some mysterious business and then back to their dens and lairs. Between their “jobs” they would swagger in their creaking high boots with tops creased in an accordion-like fashion about the Bahn, as the railroad station used to be called, or somewhere in the park, puffed their cigarettes bitten with steel-capped teeth as they reminisced about the black-and-white Siberia – “... we’ll leave the jail in the morning to be transported to the Vorkuta ” – and even their Finnish knives, if it got to them, were stuck in somebody’s body painlessly and harmlessly, and easily as if it were a mannequin.
Strap from Charivne, himself an old thief of about fifty, had once told Pashok how in his childhood some toughs used to come to the Shevchenko Park and treat the kids to ice cream and lollipops. Most likely, they would also carve up somebody from time to time, but Strap wouldn’t speak about it. Pashok had read not long ago how some guys in a labor camp sawed off the heads of their fellow inmates with a two-handled saw while those were still alive, but Strap would talk about such things either.
Today the artless ruffians of yesteryear have given way to the so-called tough bosses. Such as Pundyk who had never done time even once. To be sure, Pundyk sent some dough to the “zone ” for his cronies’ obshchak , but he belonged to an entirely different breed, a new social stratum. “Shopkeepers and Komsomol chiefs,..” Pitoma sighed disapprovingly. “It’s all gotten mixed up.” But what could Uncle Vitya do about it? He was just spent material as Prokhor called the likes of him.
Pashok was convinced that a mafia was necessary but a totally different mafia. A mafia of his own. He had been thinking about it for a long time and had even gone to talk to Sashko Chernenko. Some of the most interesting guys of those who gathered in October Square clustered around Sashko who was surely an outstanding type, a born political leader. In the spring they had locked him up, allegedly for being in arrears with his alimony payments, but lots of people demanded his release, including some dissidents from Kiev and Lviv, and they had to let him walk. “I’ve been thinking about it,” Sashko said after listening to Pavlo. “We’ve been working at it, a little. Only...” Sashko peered significantly into the distance. “Politically active people are, as a rule, helpless in criminal business. We’ve got to come up with something different.”
This might be true. However, the faces of many of Sashko’s guys suggested the opposite. After Kapulivka, where Pashok had seen hundreds of serious types, he was convinced that he was right. There was no reason why they couldn’t do what Pundyk, for example, had been able to do. Rumors were afloat that all those kiosks on Ivanov Street were no longer state-owned but belonged to Pundyk, as did the marketplace which Pundyk had laid his hands on on the sly, by teaming up with Katya the store manager who had also leased their food store No. 54 or bought it outright – God knows which, because plain people, Pashok including, didn’t know a damn thing about it. They just had to take hold of some business, some resource, and then there would be enough dough for that newspaper which Sashko published from time to time, and the flags for rallies, and something else too. Pashok had only a general idea of how this could be done. But if Chernenko enlisted the support of such people as Proshka , it would all become absolutely serious and real. Only how could such people be persuaded to get aboard?
Pashok often congratulated himself on having unearthed Prokhor. He’d seen countless men like him – self-assured, arrogant, often with square jaws and tattooed backs. And like a whale that strained plankton with its baleen, Pashok had sifted them all looking out for something really special. And Proshka was special. Of this Pashok was sure one hundred percent. Now Prokhor was biding his time, like an animal that froze before it jumped on its prey, and had even quit his job. And damn right he was, too – it was high time he tried something real big. He was certainly as good as any of the former and present shadow leaders that half the city was whispering about.
Before Mohammed there had been Chort with those two “men of honor” from Zelenyi Yar – Charlie and Pronoza. Before Chort was Korchma . As to those who had been there still earlier Zhenya Ostrovsky talked, in a low whisper, about some Jackson, Kuchma, and Uncle Vanya Kursky. Chort had recently turned up with several thugs at “Bida.” Pashok had thought that Chort was no longer around, because he was said to be too far gone with the needle, but here he was all right. Holding a gun with the barrel down he rushed from one room to another looking for Yegor who should’ve thought twice before picking on some kid, a minor, the son of an old buddy of Chort’s. Yegor shivered for a good two weeks after that visit.
Pundyk remained a permanent figure. He was only a district-scale operator but a long-lasting one. As Yura Boyko joked, Pundyk got across an image of stability. Supa’s fortunes declined after a jaw-breaking blow he received – instead of dealing as was his custom – outside the grocery from no one else than Pundyk. Pundyk was a bodybuilder who appeared to be guided not by the outmoded gang law but a steel-hard business acumen and, as Yura the intellectual would have put it, the considerations of economic expediency, or, in plain words, profit and gain. “A good watcher is a sure winner!” as sprightly guys had used to shout – some still did – at crowded spots of the district. “Just watch which way it rolls. There’s a special bonus for those with hundred-percent eyesight!” They were all Pundyk’s men. They “worked” for him as they put it. And there were no bonuses here for those who hoped to seize Fortune by his fiery tail. The little ball which must surely be under this cup is, in fact, pressed between the fingers of the “bottom man,” the one who manipulates those cups on a piece of cardboard or plywood while the other cheat, the “top,” draws away the attention of the suckers making bets. Yura Boyko had once been present at a celebration attended by the entire district élite – deputy chairman of the District Council, head of the Trade Department, bosses of underground manufacturing businesses, and assorted company executives. Among them were also Pundyk and Katya the store manager. So he had progressed beyond the cups-and-balls stage. And Yura said that Pundyk had even made a speech at that gathering. In his turn, Yura, introduced by his sweetheart, the university deanness, as a young avant-garde poet, read his poem: “In the ancient, abysmal abode of Amazons...” – stuff like that. The public nodded approvingly. Pavlo did not understand what made Yura do a thing like that. He wouldn’t have done it for love or money. Certainly not for those fat swine. Go fuck yourselves, you bastards. It was ages since he had last seen Muddy, thought Pashok as he watched the backs of Beck and Perinsky who were heading somewhere – most probably to Peredatochna Street where Beck’s numerous family resided. Yura had been so full of vague talk and muddy ideas that Pashok had nicknamed him Muddy. The latest idea of Yura’s was to write a book about the best-known of the local hoods that would be both thoroughly documented and highly artistic. Criminal Zaporizhya – how’s that for a title? Yura had invited Pashok to coauthor it, and Pashok even got the opening line ready in his head: “Chort crossed the tracks, gravel crunching under his feet, and descended from the embankment to the settlement...” Or not Chort but somebody else – what difference did it make? But all that was rubbish. What Pavlo was really interested in was poetry.
Pashok suspected that Muddy hadn’t made it real big in poetry, which was why he was often so skeptical about the others. But his views were interesting and, which was even more important, all his own, not borrowed.
“Your Kholodnyi is just a Party poet, only turned inside out. Kordun is a mumbling ninny. But Vorobyov is so amazingly interesting that it’s hard to believe he’s actually a Ukrainian bird,” preached Yura. “And yet, and yet,” Muddy swallowed saliva, “...I want to hear something that’s never been said before – anywhere. Some rough talk from new prophets...” Pashok stared absent-mindedly toward the playground where Pavshuk and Bludnya were still talking about something. “Rough talk from new prophets” – that sounded pretty. That goddamned Yura, the murky-headed Yura – would he ever stumble onto the right track? His parents were common hard-working folks from the Kherson or Mykolayiv area. When he had last seen him, Yura, with Marquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch under his armpit, laughed heartily as he told about his visit to his parents. When he came Uncle Vovka was distilling home-brew – front-rank industrial workers, too, were partial to home-brewed vodka – and didn’t unbolt the door for a good half hour, because he was so scared he didn’t recognize his own son peering at him through the peephole. Anyway, his parents were plain folks, and Yura was a snob and an aesthete who manicured his nails and rattled about some literary groups with odd-sounding names and “lofty inarticulateness.” Pashok had once come across a thickish book by Lothman that was about such things, but he had found it tough going. Judging by Yura’s vague hints he had become involved in some shady business, some frauds. Or it may have something to do with counterfeit dollars or illicit real estate trade. A high-brow swindler who read Dali’s Diary of a Genius and rhymed avant-garde doggerels – why not? There was nothing wrong about it. At least Yura was not one of the “official” versifiers from the local writers’ union whose poems in the newspapers Pashok ran through from time to time and then only if there was no dedication. For such authors had a bad habit of dedicating their pieces to steel founders, pacemaking team leaders or official anniversaries. “Kindergarten stuff,” Muddy scoffed. “Some newspapers, too. Not even the Komsomolka – the Hulyaypole district sheet at best.” Muddy had been dying to go to Moscow to meet Andrey Andreyevich as he called Voznesensky , but had recently cooled down somewhat in his admiration for the glorious capital, also because of his arguments with Pashok. “True, we aren’t the same as the Russians after all,” he would concede, somewhat reluctantly. “We are something else. We are Makhnovites .” And Pashok gladly agreed. “Ma-khno-vites,” it would echo in his mind, syllable by syllable.
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