The old academic dictum “Publish or Perish” has taken on a wholly new, shall we say literal, meaning in our present-day Covid-19 pandemic. We are in lockdown for our safety, not to fall prey to the insidious killer that lurks everywhere outside the door to our homes. In this suspended state of being we are stripped of nearly all the usual distractions which work against Sitzfleisch, that is to say against sitting tight at the computer and writing. Writing a poem, an essay, a novel, a memoir….Whatever.
Attending social club meetings, delivering lectures or participating in debates, going out to concerts and opera, enjoying a meal in a restaurant prepared by a chef who knows his game a lot better than I do working in our galley kitchen, or traveling to Russia, to Italy, to more distant and exotic vacations, all of these desires only bring on a sigh of self-pity as the days pass one after another in a monotonous and almost solitary flow.
The consequence is that so many family members are publishing. Our son-in-law, Dimitri Ryelandt, has just published his third book of adult comic strips, a well-respected traditional genre of Belgium. His own niche is word games, revealing to his readers the nooks and crannies of French Belgian linguistic originality which sets it apart from the French in the neighboring Republic.
Meanwhile, my wife, Larisa Zalesova-Doctorow published her Great Russian Novel in May. With the sweep of a Leo Tolstoy, she relates in The Mosaic of My Life the experience of the Russian nation in the turbulent 20th century from the near norm under the Tsar to the Kafkaesque madness of the late Stalin years, all set out in the life of one family and a handful of characters. In a couple of weeks she will be sending to the publisher her latest manuscript, Dacha Tales: Life in the Russian Hinterland. This will be a short book in the travel genre. It is built upon ten years of experience with a summer home that we built on a parcel of land in walking distance from a large lake situated in a hamlet 80 kilometers south of Petersburg.
And I have finally produced the first of a two-volume set of memoirs that mine 15 linear meters of personal archives from my work in and around the Soviet Union/Russia, 1975-2000. Memoirs of a Russianist, Volume I: From the Ground Up has just been released by publisher Author House and is already available for purchase on www.amazon.com and its related national websites, as well as from Barnes & Noble, www.bol.com and other leading online retailers.
Readers of my blogs have already had a taste of the material in this book from the installments of diary extracts that I have put up on my website in the past few months. The book itself opens with a solid narrative which provides the context for the diary extracts. The diaries make up two-thirds of the text. They should be of value to historians, and of human interest to the general reader. They contain a great many usually unspoken bits of advice to business school students and for those entering upon careers in Emerging Markets.
I will be pleased to receive any feedback from readers to the Contact point on this website.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2020