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America, Where Great Literature Kicked the Bucket

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Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
(Image by (From Wikimedia) Lloyd Arnold, Author: Lloyd Arnold)
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Once in a while, people ask me: "Why did you accept the US citizenship, many years ago?" "After all," they say, "now you are one of the most vocal critics of the United States, and of the West in general."

Perhaps I never explained, or I did, some time ago, and now it is forgotten. So, let me try again, now that the world is facing destruction, and an unpronounced but real "new cold war" is ruining millions of lives.

First of all, let me clarify: I am a novelist. That's what I am, essentially, no matter what other stuff of mine you are reading, and no matter what films of mine you are watching.

Really, seriously, you did not know? Of course, you did! Journalists do not write like this.

As a novelist, since my childhood, I was in love with the literature that used to be written in the United States. I am talking about North America about which people hardly know much, now.

The America of Huckleberry Finn, of Captain John Yossarian from "Catch 22", or Robert Jordan from "For Whom the Bell Tolls".

Commercialism, Western propaganda and so-called political correctness, made that country of daring, rebellion, dreams, and yes - depth - almost disappear from the 'cultural radar', all over the world. Selfishness, narcissism and lately, the inability to even listen to others, has made American culture basically ruin itself, and in the process, to ruin its literature, its society and what was positive about its very essence.

Also, it has managed to destroy the image of itself, all over the world.

***

"My America" was actually a country which we knew, loved and cherished in Leningrad and Prague, perhaps even much more than in Chicago or Atlanta. A country of giants such as Faulkner and Hemingway, Nathanael West, Steinbeck, Dreiser, Heller, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O'Neill.

This America is now thoroughly unknown in the neo-colonies, from Jakarta to Guatemala, and from Nairobi to Riyadh.

The America that is renowned nowadays is that of the cheapest pop, of Hollywood blockbusters, sitcoms, junk food and junk clothing. An America of a pathetic narrative, of dumb slang, predictable humor and feel-good rubbish.

Yet, it was that deep, unknown, and mysterious America full of powerful and often dark narratives, as well as of brave voices, with which I fell, decades ago, deeply in love.

I fell in love with it, got enormously inspired by it, but when it changed and lost most of its strength, when it gained the excessive amount of aggressiveness and ignorance, I had no choice but to leave it behind.

I always loved Faulkner, but suddenly there was no figure of his magnitude.

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