A Year in Russia Without Women
Magical Realism by ALAN NAFZGER
A Year in Russia Without Women – Pecan Street Press
Russia Without Women – Lubbock ● Austin ● Fort Worth
A Year in Russia Without Women is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Amazon edition – A Year in Russia Without Women
Copyright © 2019 Alan Nafzger
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A YEAR IN RUSSIA WITHOUT WOMEN
Written by Alan Nafzger
A Year in Russia Without Women – FADE IN
BEGIN TITLES – A Year in Russia Without Women
Various Moscow locations: Russian women, dressed in colorful and fashionable clothes, get in and out of taxis, on an off metro cars, walk sidewalks and in the background, we see the Kremlin, Red Square, Moscova River, Apartments on the Embankment, Saint Basils, the Bolshoi, Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Everything is bright and cheerful.
A Year in Russia Without Women
A woman walks in front of the state historical museum and a few men might push each other and want to fight but they look up as a woman passes. They peacefully debate politics. There are several couples who have just become married, and they are walking in Gorky Park. GUM is busy with women shopping, looking, and buying.
A Year in Russia Without Women
Two men have business in a bank. They enter and there are 10 female bank tellers and two male tellers, Every line at the bank is open and there is only a short wait.
A Year in Russia Without Women
Ostankino TV Tower; on the television news a beautiful and intelligent woman reads the news. The journalists beside her on TV look happy and content.
A Year in Russia Without Women
A woman walks into a modern hair salon on Marosejka Street. She may not be entirely happy, but she politely smiles at the HAIRDRESSER and takes a seat.
Russia Without Women
EXT. MOSCOW APARTMENT – NIGHT
An UNNAMED MAN is having a tussle with this wife. There are unusually harsh words.
I am the man of this house. I’m the leader and you will do what I say.
No, I won’t. I’m your wife but it’s wrong.
Come here bitch, I’ll show you what is wrong.
Leave. I want you to leave.
The man grabs for her but she struggles out of his grasp.
The woman moves swiftly out of his reach to the other side of the room. If he moves clockwise to reach her, she moves clockwise around an object. She is sure to keep a sofa, a table, or a desk between them at all times.
The children are on the sofa watching television and they have seen the arguing before. They aren’t overly excited. The SON looks at the DAUGHTER; should they clear out of the room? They don’t move. The son only turns up the volume on the television, so maybe the neighbors won’t hear the fighting. The children don’t feel they need to move yet; so far, it’s a simple verbal argument.
The man takes a vase, obviously a precious family heirloom, and throws it against the wall. It smashed into many pieces.
The son and daughter, now agree they should leave. They simply walk into their bedrooms and peek out through the doors. They are ready to shut and lock the doors if necessary.
On the wall, there are two, or more, photos of the man and his army buddies. The UNNAMED WOMAN knocks at least a few off the wall. They crash down and the glass breaks.
He chases her and she screams at him. Slowly it becomes a massive fight and really blows up when he catches her.
The man pushes the woman out of the front room into the kitchen. She tries to push him back, but he is thick and doesn’t budge. He takes her by the neck… and pushes her against the counter. He’s not squeezing her neck but he might. His anger is building.
She’s being bent backward and it clearly hurts her. She’s about to panic and looks at the knife far from her in the kitchen sink. She spots a skillet neared her on the kitchen counter. She might struggle to reach it. He raises his hand and then it becomes a fist… he is about to strike her. She is about to reach the skillet and hit him over the head with it.
TIGHT on her lips. She’s been injured in the scuffle. Her lip is bleeding.
Never hit a lady.
He hesitates and looks into her eyes. She’s looking down and to her left. She has a skillet in her hand. She’s ready to use it on the man.
You’re no lady.
He drops his raised fist. He doesn’t hit her. He leaves. She cries. The children come out of their rooms to console her. She hugs her children.
Your father loves you. This is between him and me. It has nothing to do with you, children. We both love you very much.
She goes to the refrigerator and puts ice on her lip.
INT. HOSPITAL MATERNITY WARD
An obstetrician is very busy. He is traveling from room to room. He has plenty of help, nurses, but there are some nervous deliveries. But at the end of the day, when his replacement arrives, the obstetrician is dead tired and leans against the wall, but smiles big. He’s been working like a dog, but is very happy and content. There are so many babies they need to put some in cardboard boxes.
INT. OKHOTNY RYAD
The mall is aesthetically beautiful. The fact that it’s underground allows for the beautiful world clock dome. From Russian chains in the food court to Sbarro and McDonalds out by Aleksandrovsky Sad. There’s a Moo-Moo on the outer lower level. The stores – The vast majority of the stores are clothing and shoe places.
The mall is full and rubles are being exchanged. The mall is full of women. Ninety percent of the patrons are female.
INT. RUSSIAN TELEVISION NEWS – DAY
Moscow police are investigating the disappearance of 47 women from the city. While the odds of this many women being kidnapped in one twenty-four hour period is extremely high this is could signal an entirely new crime wave.
INT. HOSPITAL MATERNITY WARD
The fathers, new mothers, brothers and sisters, and nurses all applaud the obstetrician as he exits the maternity ward.
INT. RUSSIAN TELEVISION NEWS – DAY
NEWS ANCHOR (V.O.)
However, on a lighter side of things in Moscow. There is a new medical world-record. Dr. Alexi Korotkov and the staff at Maternity Hospital of Abrikosova, delivered 48 babies in a 24 hour period, ending today. He received a surprise visit from the president and congratulations from many.
The obstetrician stands still as the Russian president pins a medal on the doctor. The doctor is extremely proud. There are many journalists there to take photos.
Why so many babies and all in one day.
The obstetrician simply shrugs and smiles.
What happened nine months previous?
I don’t know but I love my country.
EXT. Sheraton Palace Hotel – NIGHT
A young girl with a song is performing with her guitar on the sidewalk for coins. There is little interest in helping her. Perhaps her music is uninspired, but she has potential.
EXT/INT. Sheraton Palace Hotel – NIGHT
LEV and LIKA get out of a luxury vehicle in front of the hotel. They give the keys to the valet parking attendant.
There is a corporate party going on in the ballroom. The couple is there because of Lev’s job.
Lika’s first notion is to find their table. Lev’s first impulse is to find the bar.
I’m a little nervous. You want a drink?
No, I’m okay. I’m going to find our table.
Lika approaches the event coordinator and inquires about the table. Lika has been married to him for years and she knows that he’s an alcoholic. Some nights worse than others, and she’s looking for a clue how this night will go. From across the room, she watches Lev down his first drink in seconds and then he brings two to the table.
She doesn’t say anything, she just looks at the two drinks. Obviously, she disapproves. He struggles for an explanation.
Oh, these? There might be a line at the bar later, so I just brought two. And there are awards, I don’t want to be getting up and down all the time.
Don’t drink too much, honey.
It’s going to be a long night; will you look at all those trophies? Make sure you pace yourself.
I can handle it.
But still, I’d rather you didn’t have too much. It’s a gala; I mean everything is so formal.
Not tonight. Okay?
Yea, right whatever.
Lika smiles and gestures to all the people around the room.
These are all your coworkers?
Lev looks around.
Yep, pretty much.
He leans forward and whispers to her. He’s already relatively drunk.
The most boring bunch of saps on the planet, if you ask me.
The awards begin: best new employee, best venue, best marketing campaign, best event on a budget, best social event, best stand design, best technical support, best association/corporate meeting, best consumer exhibition, best trade exhibition, best philanthropic event, young achiever of the year, best temporary venue or structure, best event space design and décor.
They are announcing the awards and handing out small statuettes. The winners climb a podium to accept the award and shake hands with the CEO.
With each award Lev doesn’t win, he stops the waitress for a drink. Lika looks at him reassuringly, that he will win eventually. She hopes her smile and encouragement will make him want to stop drinking.
Some of Lev’s female coworkers look over at him and appear worried. They look pitifully at Lika. Clearly, Lev is a heavy drinker and everyone knows it.
Lika gives the waitress a “no more” look and for the rest of the night, she avoids Lev’s table. Lev shouts to her and she ignores him. He simply gets up and walks to the bar, and brings back two drinks at a time.
A male coworker leans over from another table.
Hey buddy, don’t get too plastered. You might have to walk up there and claim your prize.
I really liked your tractor exhibition.
I think you’re a shoe in.
Thanks. Thanks. I appreciate it.
The award is announced and Lev doesn’t win. His coworker might have been delaying the inevitable bout of drinking.
The male coworkeR shrugs to Lev as if to say, “Oh well.” Lev shows his buddy that he doesn’t really care by holding up his glass and then downing it.
Finally, Lika leans over to Lev quietly.
Don’t you think you’ve had enough?
Don’t tell me that. Not in front of my friends and coworkers.
I’m sorry, I was trying to be considerate. I am whispering in your ear. We brought the car and I can’t drive.
I’ll be okay. I can handle it. I’m just having fun.
Other awards are given and Lev wins nothing. He continues to drink. Finally, the awards are over and the room begins to clear. Lika gathers her things, coat and purse. Lev disappears to the bar for one last drink. He downs it and they are leaving the ballroom.
The BOSS walks past them in the hotel lobby. Lev looks like he might vomit, but he’s holding it back.
Lev, I know you were left out tonight. That doesn’t mean we don’t think you’re a valuable employee.
There is a long pause. We don’t know if Lev will throw up on his boss or say anything at all.
Thank you, sir.
Thank you for a wonderful party.
It was my pleasure.
The boss walks away, shaking the hands of others, but he looks back to see Lev barfing into a tree container.
Lev’s male coworker friend, also drunk, comes and hugs him.
Hey buddy, you have a good time?
Hell of a time. Hell of a time. I can barely stand up.
You’re always the life of the party.
He’s great. Your husband, he’s a great man and he got screwed tonight.
The boss hesitates, turns, for a second and then continues shaking hands. He pretends that he doesn’t see.
WOMEN IN RUSSIA
The gender ratio in Russia is currently 86.8 men per 100 women, and the ratios in Latvia (84.8), Ukraine (86.3), Armenia (86.5), Belarus (86.8) and other former Soviet nations are similarly low.
(By contrast, the ratio in the U.S. is 98.3 men per 100 women, and the global ratio is 101.8 men per 100 women, according to 2015 United Nations data. The U.S. has been more female than male since at least 1950, while the global population first became majority male around 1960.)
So what are the factors that set the former Soviet bloc apart?
The population in Russia and the former USSR as a whole is older than that of the world. Most of these nations, including the most populous, also have low fertility rates compared with the global average. This skews the population’s gender ratio because older people are more likely to be female, while more younger people are male.
Where Women Outlive Men the LongestYounger men in the former Soviet Union also have an unusually high mortality rate, which has widened the population’s gender imbalance. One way to see this is to look at the life expectancy of men and women and the differences between those numbers.
Russian women born from 2010 to 2015 are expected to live to age 75.6, while Russian men are expected to live to age 64.2, a gap of 11.4 years. Other former USSR countries, such as Belarus, Ukraine and Latvia, have similarly high gaps, with many men in this area losing their lives to alcohol-related incidents, suicides and diseases, among other causes (as noted by demographer Murray Feshbach). The only nation with a higher life-expectancy gap between genders is war-torn Syria.
Alcoholism has long been a problem in the former USSR, especially for young men. A 2014 study in The Lancet medical journal found evidence that excess vodka use is a top killer in Russia, responsible for a disproportionate amount of deaths among Russian men. And a 2013 Pew Research Center survey found a stark gender divide on attitudes toward drinking in Russian society: 52% of women believe that drinking alcohol is morally unacceptable, compared with just 36% of men who say the same.
Magical Realism – Russia Without Women
Magic realism (also known as magical realism or marvelous realism) is a 20th-century style of fiction and literary genre. The terms were influenced by an eponymous German painting style in the 1920s. As a literary fiction style, magic realism paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements, often dealing with the blurring of the lines between fantasy and reality. Magical realism, perhaps the most common term, often refers to literature in particular, with magical or supernatural phenomena presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting, commonly found in novels and dramatic performances.: 1–5 Despite including certain magic elements, it is generally considered to be a different genre from fantasy because magical realism uses a substantial amount of realistic detail and employs magical elements to make a point about reality, while fantasy stories are often separated from reality. Magical realism is often seen as an amalgamation of real and magical elements that produces a more inclusive writing form than either literary realism or fantasy.
The term magic realism is broadly descriptive rather than critically rigorous, and Matthew Strecher (1999) defines it as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.” The term and its wide definition can often become confused, as many writers are categorized as magical realists.
Irene Guenther (1995) tackles the German roots of the term, and how an earlier magic realist art is related to a later magic realist literature; meanwhile, magical realism is often associated with Latin-American literature, including founders of the genre, particularly the authors María Luisa Bombal, Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Jorge Luis Borges, Juan Rulfo, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Elena Garro, Mireya Robles, Rómulo Gallegos and Arturo Uslar Pietri. In English literature, its chief exponents include Neil Gaiman, Salman Rushdie, Alice Hoffman, Nick Joaquin, and Nicola Barker. In Bengali literature, prominent writers of magic realism include Nabarun Bhattacharya, Akhteruzzaman Elias, Shahidul Zahir, Jibanananda Das and Syed Waliullah. In Japanese literature, one of the most important authors of this genre is Haruki Murakami. In Polish literature, magic realism is represented by Olga Tokarczuk, the 2018 Nobel Prize laureate in Literature.
Literature – magical realism
The extent to which the characteristics below apply to a given magic realist text varies. Every text is different and employs a smattering of the qualities listed here. However, they accurately portray what one might expect from a magic realist text.
Magical realism portrays fantastical events in an otherwise realistic tone. It brings fables, folk tales, and myths into contemporary social relevance. Fantasy traits given to characters, such as levitation, telepathy, and telekinesis, help to encompass modern political realities that can be phantasmagorical.
The existence of fantastic elements in the real world provides the basis for magical realism. Writers do not invent new worlds, but rather, they reveal the magical in the existing world, as was done by Gabriel García Márquez, who wrote the seminal work One Hundred Years of Solitude. In the world of magical realism, the supernatural realm blends with the natural, familiar world.: 15
Authorial reticence is the “deliberate withholding of information and explanations about the disconcerting fictitious world.”: 16 The narrator is indifferent, a characteristic enhanced by this absence of explanation of fantastic events; the story proceeds with “logical precision” as if nothing extraordinary had taken place.: 30 Magical events are presented as ordinary occurrences; therefore, the reader accepts the marvelous as normal and common. Explaining the supernatural world or presenting it as extraordinary would immediately reduce its legitimacy relative to the natural world. The reader would consequently disregard the supernatural as false testimony.
In his essay “The Baroque and the Marvelous Real”, Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier defines the baroque by a lack of emptiness, a departure from structure or rules, and an “extraordinary” abundance (plenitude) of disorienting detail. (He cites Mondrian as its opposite.) From this angle, Carpentier views the baroque as a layering of elements, which translates easily into the postcolonial or transcultural Latin-American atmosphere that he emphasizes in The Kingdom of this World. “America, a continent of symbiosis, mutations…mestizaje, engenders the baroque,” made explicit by elaborate Aztec temples and associative Nahuatl poetry. These mixing ethnicities grow together with the American baroque; the space in between is where the “marvelous real” is seen. Marvelous: not meaning beautiful and pleasant, but extraordinary, strange, and excellent. Such a complex system of layering—encompassed in the Latin-American “boom” novel, such as One Hundred Years of Solitude—aims towards “translating the scope of America.”: 107
Magical realism plot lines characteristically employ hybrid multiple planes of reality that take place in “inharmonious arenas of such opposites as urban and rural, and Western and indigenous.”
Metafiction – Russia Without Women
This trait centers on the reader’s role in literature. With its multiple realities and specific reference to the reader’s world, it explores the impact fiction has on reality, reality on fiction, and the reader’s role in between; as such, it is well suited for drawing attention to social or political criticism. Furthermore, it is the tool paramount in the execution of a related and major magic-realist phenomenon: textualization. This term defines two conditions—first, where a fictitious reader enters the story within a story while reading it, making them self-conscious of their status as readers—and secondly, where the textual world enters into the reader’s (real) world. Good sense would negate this process, but “magic” is the flexible convention that allows it.
Heightened awareness of mystery
Something that most critics agree on is this major theme. Magic realist literature tends to read at an intensified level. Taking One Hundred Years of Solitude, the reader must let go of pre-existing ties to conventional exposition, plot advancement, linear time structure, scientific reason, etc., to strive for a state of heightened awareness of life’s connectedness or hidden meanings. Luis Leal articulates this feeling as “to seize the mystery that breathes behind things,” and supports the claim by saying a writer must heighten his senses to the point of “estado limite” (‘limit state’ or ‘extreme’) in order to realize all levels of reality, most importantly that of mystery.
Political critique – Russia Without Women
Magic realism contains an “implicit criticism of society, particularly the elite.” Especially with regard to Latin America, the style breaks from the inarguable discourse of “privileged centers of literature.” This is a mode primarily about and for “ex-centrics:” the geographically, socially, and economically marginalized. Therefore, magic realism’s “alternative world” works to correct the reality of established viewpoints (like realism, naturalism, modernism). Magic-realist texts, under this logic, are subversive texts, revolutionary against socially-dominant forces. Alternatively, the socially-dominant may implement magical realism to disassociate themselves from their “power discourse.”: 195 Theo D’haen calls this change in perspective “decentering.”
In his review of Gabriel Garcia Márquez’ novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Salman Rushdie argues that the formal experiment of magic realism allows political ideas to be expressed in ways that might not be possible through more established literary forms:
“El realismo mágico”, magic realism, at least as practised by Márquez, is a development out of Surrealism that expresses a genuinely “Third World” consciousness. It deals with what Naipaul has called “half-made” societies, in which the impossibly old struggles against the appallingly new, in which public corruptions and private anguishes are somehow more garish and extreme than they ever get in the so-called “North”, where centuries of wealth and power have formed thick layers over the surface of what’s really going on. In the works of Márquez, as in the world he describes, impossible things happen constantly, and quite plausibly, out in the open under the midday sun.
Origins – magical realism
Literary magic realism originated in Latin America. Writers often traveled between their home country and European cultural hubs, such as Paris or Berlin, and were influenced by the art movement of the time. Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier and Venezuelan Arturo Uslar-Pietri, for example, were strongly influenced by European artistic movements, such as Surrealism, during their stays in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. One major event that linked painterly and literary magic realisms was the translation and publication of Franz Roh’s book into Spanish by Spain’s Revista de Occidente in 1927, headed by major literary figure José Ortega y Gasset. “Within a year, Magic Realism was being applied to the prose of European authors in the literary circles of Buenos Aires.”: 61 Jorge Luis Borges inspired and encouraged other Latin American writers in the development of magical realism – particularly with his first magical realist publication, Historia universal de la infamia in 1935. Between 1940 and 1950, magical realism in Latin America reached its peak, with prominent writers appearing mainly in Argentina. Alejo Carpentier’s novel The Kingdom of This World, published in 1949, is often characterised as an important harbinger of magic realism, which reached its most canonical incarnation in Gabriel García Marquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967).
The theoretical implications of visual art’s magic realism greatly influenced European and Latin American literature. Italian Massimo Bontempelli, for instance, claimed that literature could be a means to create a collective consciousness by “opening new mythical and magical perspectives on reality”, and used his writings to inspire an Italian nation governed by Fascism. Pietri was closely associated with Roh’s form of magic realism and knew Bontempelli in Paris. Rather than follow Carpentier’s developing versions of “the (Latin) American marvelous real”, Uslar-Pietri’s writings emphasize “the mystery of human living amongst the reality of life”. He believed magic realism was “a continuation of the vanguardia [or avant-garde] modernist experimental writings of Latin America”.
Originally posted 2021-01-17 11:15:36.