The Neva Star
You know, these days, in the near apocalypse that is Brexit Britain, it's hard to find many things that can snap one out of the national malaise. However, one such moment of delight was visited upon me in the midst of the darkness by the arrival of Daunt Book's lovely edition of The Neva Star by outsideleft favourite, CD Rose.
The story follows three protagonists, all named Sergei, who are stranded on a ship which has been moored in the port of Naples for three years. The last of a large crew which has vanished who knows where, the men are destined to stay on board until their fate is somehow resolved, or the food runs out. The three men exist in a world that rests on the border between selves, countries, realities. '
Sometimes they are incessantly together, eating, sleeping, breathing and shitting in rhythm, all but holding hands for weeks at a time in a near hysterical attempt to ward off the vacuum of being alone. They have played more games of chess with each other than they can remember. Sergei always wins.'
Despite the constraints of the clever conceit, Rose writes with a playful lightness of touch which hacks like me can only envy. Classic myths and local legends sit alongside the more quotidienne observations of daily life for the men. It's The Odyssey meets Waiting for Godot as, rather quickly, in the midst of the slowness, it becomes strangely unimportant which Sergei is which. After all, where does one draw the line between being and becoming? And what does it mean to lose love, to lose faith, or even to lose the self? Find out soon when we too are stranded on our island far from the loving arms of Europe with its jaunty scarves and cheeses so delicious just thinking of them makes me want to cry.
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