Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Brokeback Mountain is no Elbrus.

I simply cannot resist.

I know I should not. I know it is mean. Also, who am I to judge?

But I physically cannot resist.

Today, at work, as you do, I finally had a moment to glance through the much talked about Artush and Zaur.

Before attempting to secretly print it out and risk getting sacked, I thought: 'Let’s just glance through and see if it is worth it?'

I read a few pages, and came to the scene of the two young lovers meeting -again. According to the author, they had been playing some very naughty games back in childhood. I am trying not to think what the author meant by “childhood”- not to get disturbing images in my already disturbed enough head. Neither of them, years after, was sure the other one would recognize him. That also seemed a bit strange to me. However old, fat or bald my ex lovers might be right now, I would hope I can still recognize them, should we ever accidentally meet again. That, of course, might have something to do with the fact that in my childhood, the naughtiest thing I had done was probably nick someone’s newspaper from an open mail box. Homosexual or, in fact, any-sexual love was not on my mind in my childhood days. But OK. Never mind that bit. More importantly, the author mentioned, fondly, that the lovers’ “keys” were much smaller back in those days. Right, moving on....

The scene of the main characters meeting again was kind of good. The passionate glances across the room, the tension, the agreement to meet back at the hotel.... I was curious and kept reading. Until I got to the actual sex scenes.

Brokeback Mountain can take a back seat. Move over and make space for a properly revealing gay love scene.

I personally have no problems with love scenes, gay or straight. Far from it! However, I could not fight the feeling that I was reading cheap porn. And no attempts to bring in the ideas of Armenian-Azeri peace; or the tragedy of the Bakuvians who no longer simmer in one big gay multicultural pot could distract me. Sorry. Porn.

But most importantly, what I thought was the funniest part is that the author clearly attempted for the love scene NOT to sound pornographic. He avoided the word penis, clearly assuming that if he replaced it with metaphors like a key or the mountain of Elbrus, it would make things a lot more....more...what? Romantic? Sexy? Erotic?

And no, I am not going to spare you the details. This bit was my favourite, and I am dying, absolutely dying here to share it with you.

I shall attempt a translation. Please remember! This is not my choice of words.

Yesterday, as soon as he saw the open peach of the loved one, he got overwhelmed and cried. Hot tears fell upon his ready for an attack dagger. And Artush sunk the dagger, wet from tears, up to its handle in Zaur’s sheath. And now he was upset: “Oh why did I not use Vaseline, or at least, cream? Why be so rough? Yes, tears are sacred (eh? ) but cannot replace the cream! No, they cannot! “

I know this book was a brave move somewhere like Azerbaijan. I know it is controversial and therefore, must be appreciated. Maybe? the author tried to use the old One Thousand and One Nights style language to add an Eastern touch to his novel- a good way to make it more exotic. Maybe, I am just a girl and my understanding of what is erotic is totally different.

All I remember from reading this book are the daggers, teeny-weeny keys, the Elbrus mountain ready to erupt and... peaches. Which, sadly, used to be one of my favourite fruits. Until now.


  1. I simply love your irony...

  2. I didn't even make any attempt to read the book:) The original of the book was in Azeri:) What you read was the translation into Russian and in the original version the author used images and metaphors from the Azerbaijani classical literature.(poor guys are turning and twisting in their graves (no coffins for muslims)) The book was meant to be disgusting, I think.

  3. @Gabriela: Not everyone will love this one, trust me. :)

    @Sofisticos: I am curious if it sounds any better in Azeri? What do you think? Does it? :) How do you say in Azeri: "His dagger, ready for the attack, plunged into Zaur's peach"? :) It used to actually be a little "key" before, but a few years after it turned into a dagger. As if by magic.

    I dont believe it was meant to be disgusting, that's the whole point! He might have meant to shock us all, yes: so it gets talked about, hopefully even banned. But I trust it was meant as a sad love story. A true love story, touching on some serious issues of acceptance both as gay men and as armenian-azeri lovers.

  4. Probably you should ask your mother...

  5. Ani: I bet she would master it with more class! But over my dead body! Unless of course, she can get famous and rich, or just one of the two. Then I might let her.

  6. Oh dear... You make me laugh so much x

  7. I never read the book (and not going to, in any language:))So I can't judge which version is better, what I said about images and metaphors is the author's information. Peach, dagger ...You must have been cringing all the way through the book:)

  8. That scene you cited sounded sad and funny at the same time. It did not sound erotic at all. :-) If the rest of the book is as poorly written, I should buy it and read it when I am depressed--it will sure crack me up.

  9. When I first heard about this book I managed to download a copy in Azeri, which, of course, I couldn't read. Is there a Russian or English version available?

  10. It is hilarious. Mainly because translation is impossible. I can see how what may have sounded romantic in Azeri is ridiculous in Russian. For exampe, the word 'jigar' - for Azeries is affectionate; But call someone you like 'my liver' and see their reaction.

    But anyway 'shaftali' -'Peach' for an 'a...ole' is a bit far fetched - dried fig more likely - ha-ha ha!

  11. @Riyad: Have I advertised it so well then? :)
    here you go. Make sure you email me and tell me what you thought of it, as a book, all significance of the issues involved aside.


  12. @Yvetta: I hear you! We say "jigar" in Armenian too :)

    I heard about the book way back when on the Unzipped: Gay Armenia blog; however, if I'm not mistaken, no English translation is yet available. So, alas, those of us who know neither Azeri nor Russian will have to wait a little longer to provide an accurate review :) Unless it's going to be published in Armenian anytime soon? :))))

  13. @Adrineh: Well, for a modest but reasonable fee I would be happy to provide my translation services. Look just how (beautifully) I handled such a complicated paragraph! :)

    PS Thanks for following.

  14. @Scary: Thanks for the link! I started reading...

    As the character from Master and Margarita said, "Главная линия этого опуса ясна мне насквозь"

  15. Scary, I read some parts of the story in Azeri. Believe me, it sounds romantic, a bit perverd though, I think it is only because it is about the gay love scenes. For instance, he calls asshole "hole in the lock", in Azeri he doesn't use the word "deshik" (a bit rude), he uses more literary expression, such as "delik". In general, it is not that bad in Azeri :-))
    I quote some of them, hopefully it won't be too diffucult for you to understand:

    "Zaurun vücudunu sığallaya-sığallaya, asta-asta diz çöküb,tumanın altında yüksələn qalanı öpməyə başladı (started to kiss the raising fortress)"

    "qəlbini çulğayan sehirli qapını araladı (opened the magic door, which was inspiring him with passion ). Titrəyə-titrəyə daxil oldu bu qapıdan Zaur (shivering entered from this door)"

    Qızmar Bakı günlərinin birində, Artuşun evində, valideynləri işdə
    olanda, iki uşaq yasaq eşqi dadmışdılar (they tasted this tabooed love when they were young). Açarları da körpə idi, qıfıllarının dəlikləri də (their keys were small then, holes on the lockes too)