Monday, October 7, 2019

Quotes from Maxim Osipov's Rock, Paper, Scissors and Other Stories

Quotes from Maxim Osipov's Rock, Paper, Scissors and Other Stories

Life in the Country

He's falling all over me:  vodka, sweat, tobacco--there, enjoy, breath it in!  People ought to maintain a certain distance from one another.  Like in America.

Here nobody has any secrets.  Just like in heaven.

Where did all the bright people go?  When we were young there were enough of them around.  What, did they all emigrate?


The world doesn't break, no matter what you throw at it.  That's just how it's built.

To deliver man from his neighbors--isn't that the point of progress?

"Don't think about them," he says. "Killers--they're just your average people."

Yes, she taught Russian literature at a university in Khujand, but only for a while.
"But who needs Russian literature there?"  the officer ask, puzzled. "They're all..." He had wanted to say Asiatics.
No one needs it--Ruhshona couldn't agree more. Totally useless.

Polite, smartly dressed, with friendly gray eyes, he asks me to tell him about myself.
What's to tell?  I don't drink, don't smoke.  I have a driver's license.

"Our office," says Victor, "is one big family.  Anyhow fails to understand that will be fired."


"What's happening here is a particular kind of negative selection.  You won't find a humane copy within the existing system."

"The competition was settling scores," the young man agrees.  "It was a contract job."
"But why try so hard if it's only a contract?"
"For the soul's delight.  I'm telling you, cops aren't human."


The place could be anywhere with its own kind of appeal--particularly Central Russia.  You can fall for this place just as easily as a woman can fall for a loser.

There's no easier pastime than bad-mouthing the church.  Much like bad-mouthing Dostoevsky:  it's true, of course, all true, but it also missed the point.  The church is a thing of wonder, Dostoevsky is a thing of wonder, and the fact that we Russians are still here--that, too, is a thing of wonder.

But where Moscow doesn't believe in tears, as they say, around here tears are the only things we do believe in.  When the need is great, we make an exception.  It's ugly--we shouldn't allow ourselves to be touched by it--but this happy-go-lucky collective deceit unites the nation just as well as any good law.

..the water for tea is only lukewarm, and possibly not boiled at all.
"Just like the goddamned Soviet Union," mutters Tolya.

They're beating him with their black truncheons and they're beating him with their fists.  This is how we in Russia treat delirium tremens--not, we have to admit, the most uncommon ailments.

"It's horrible!  I do not--I absolutely do not--want to go on living in this country!"

"Why not leave," the girl puts in, "before you get beaten up?  A normal person shouldn't have to live here."

It's beautiful here; a joyless, Central Russian sort of beauty.  If you ignore everything man-made, it's very beautiful indeed.

"You a real Russian?"
"Yes," I replied, "I'm Russian."
"So what do you need all these things, all this order for?"

Once there has been Socialism, and Ksenia had done her duty, believing and not believing, like everyone else.

The rich, as they say, have their quirks:  the boss, for instance, plays the piano.  Nothing wrong with that.  In America, people take lessons at seventy, but here--well, we're not used to it.

"And the Soviet Union, for those who lived in it then, represented just that--the whole world. So.."
"That's a stretch, Yevgeny Lvovich.  Many people still remembered Europe."

He runs through the countries he's visited and tanks them according to quality of life: Protestant, Catholic, and, in last place, here.

To be frank, it's a country of fools.  Yevgeny Lvovich would add:  "And saints."

"He's been to the Italian countryside, to the Netherlands...Is there any comparison?  Hard to be a patriot.  Yevgeny Lvovich, almost impossible.


The boss likes to survey his surroundings through a pair of binoculars.  In his free time, when he's not occupied through a pair of binoculars.

Women appeared in his life like targets on a shooting range, immediately taking up all his attention--for a short while, but all of it.  After hitting the target, so to speak, he would keep up the relationship very briefly, then break it off.  So it went, as it should go.

There's a crow near the conservatory that smokes.  It grabs lit cigarettes out of people's mouths and smokes.  This is no urban legend--he has seen it with his own eyes, on the day he first met Lora.  In fact, the crow brought them together.

"Sofushka, dear mother, help me find a cheap apartment, already renovated,.  With all the proper paperwork."

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