Friday, January 15, 2010

Neil the Generous

My brother donated his copy of Nabokov’s novel Defiance to my growing Russian library on one condition: that he get a proper “shout out” on this blog. So this writer would like to formally acknowledge the ongoing generosity of his benevolent brother, the renowned patron of the arts, Neil.

And, while I am at it, I hope that by thanking others who have contributed to my Russian fetish I will in no way dilute the role my brother has played in laying the foundations for one of Woodlawn’s finest private collections of Russian history and literature. Taking that risk, I want to thank my Milwaukee friend for scouring the Russian shelves at the central Milwaukee library for their wonderful discarded monographs that sell, amazingly, for $1 dollar. I also thank my stepmother for her donation of other Nabokov books, a book about the Russian memory of Stalin’s crimes, and a few novels by other novelists of the Russian Diaspora. And I thank my parents-in-law and boss who gave me gift cards to bookstores. Without them, there would be no posts about bloody Civil War warlords or post-apocalyptic, nuclear landscapes.

My co-author too, deserves thanks, not only for indulging my obsession with Russian history, and writing many posts in the midst of a busy life, but for donating his entire Russian library, Chekhov stories and all, to my growing collection. The Sheila Fitzpatrick history was particularly appreciated, since it brought back memories of my favorite city, Urbana, the Paris of the area of central Illinois that is immediately West of Darien.

My wife also deserves praise, both for not mocking me too ruthlessly for the subject of this blog, and for giving me a grand and unsolicited biography of Peter the Great. My Aunt-in-Law does too, for English as well as Russian spelling corrections.

As the list goes on, I am grateful to a friend in Washington who took me to a Russian Orthodox Church bizarre which, despite the stereotype, had a rich collection of under-priced texts. Additionally, one colleague at work donated a Serbian novel; another gave me some old Soviet pamphlets; a third gave me a copy of House of the Dead and loaned me his articles on Siberian travel.

I am also grateful for a recent shipment from a Canadian friend who had collected some Soviet propaganda while on a high school trip back in 1988. Those posts are coming soon. And I should probably add a word of thanks to the Hyde Park bookseller who dramatically slashed the price of Keeper of Antiquities after I told him that I visited the book for three years, and gave me Gorky’s short book on his trip to New York for free in the knowledge that it would go to a good home. He also promised me a deal if I ever raised the capital to buy his set of E.H. Carr histories. Thanks also to my dad for keeping my grandfather’s books and newspapers on socialism for many decades. And thanks to anybody I have forgotten. I'll remember you on the red carpet, I promise. Last but not least, I thank you, gentle reader, for reading on, ignoring your complete lack of interest in the topic.

P.S. Neil, you need only to send me your photo to be more publicly recognized in this post for your outstanding works. Donate another book and there might be a naming opportunity on this site, as in the Officiall Mr. Neil X Soviet History and Literature Blog.

1 comment:

  1. We could also auction off naming rights to other sections of the blog. The [your name here] Soviet Roulette archives. The [your name here] Soviet Roulette Gallery of Recent Comments. Corporate sponsorships would be especially welcome: e.g., The [name of large Wall Street bank] Soviet Roulette Trivia Question.