I don’t like being threatened.
I don’t like being threatened.
So far we have been indulgent and patient in regard to your blog’s focus on the lies (my behaviour) and truths (sex is cheap, safe and plentiful here, particularly in Tashkent, and one other town I will not do you the personal favor of revealing unless you visit me in private [consider this an invitation]) regarding the righteous and mighty nation of Uzbekistan of which I am Premier. I like to say ‘Premier’. Yes, Ricky, we have been quite indulgent, but keep up the slander, mention me in relation to my daughter just one more time, and you are likely to find yourself in hot water.
I expect no apologies, for people like you tend to extend such at the instant it has become too late. So here is what I suggest. Merely print THIS on your blog. I did not have anal sex with my daughter. I categorically deny having anal sex with my daughter (which is not to say that anal sex is unavailable in my country, and cheap) and I do not appreciate your adding that libelous passage to the fine letter written by my esteemed Minister of Tourism, Mr. Arslan Levantinovich.
I am sure I need not explain to you that my reach is long and my justice swiftly begun and slow to come to its fit and natural end.
Yours, and perhaps one day in a way you might find unpleasantly, let us say warm,
Premier (I really like saying ‘Premier’) of the final nation of Uzbekistan
About these novels:
In his USAmerican books, Rick Harsch examined the miasma of the lost souls adrift in empire. In his Indian books, he explored the nature of the foreigner gone deeper into the philosophical chaos of India than any known predecessors. Now in his Balkan/Adriatic books, he finds universals in the thrumming persistence of the harmonics of history, perpetual conflict, and delirious outbreaks of calm.
In Skulls of Istria, a tavern confession novel, a tale told by a brilliant defrocked historian whose first step into the Balkans finds history an active volcano and relates his story in an Adriatic seaside tavern to a man whose only shared language is that of drink, a story that ranges from the Spanish Civil War to seduction and the recent Yugoslav wars.
His recovery he recounts in Requiem for a Suicide, Volume 1, called Noir Slovenia, in which language itself, the Inert, and absurd action suggest a way out for the lost man of the deserts beyond post-modernity – though the second two volumes of the trilogy – works in progress – will perhaps find otherwise, as they will seek to buttress the most extreme notions of their characters, who long for an end to history while forced to search for its very beginnings.
In Kramberger with Monkey, a comedy of assassination, Harsch proves that innovative, experimental fiction can be more entertaining than detective stories, depending largely on the fate of the narrators perhaps, as he probes the surface of humanity’s darkest of jokes only to find the nexus of simian predecessors and exalted artifice.
Adriatica Deserta, an absurdist fable that brings together a mix of eccentric strangers in Zadar, Croatia, is concerned with the more recent politically lurid, occurring during the early days of US war in Afghanistan, an oddity that is perhaps explained by some simulacrum of an eternal fascism, if indeed that is what we are to take from the mysterious tale of the South American fascist Nestor Falco that intrudes on the simpler narrative of a man who has come to take up a position at an office on a street that doesn’t exist.
If there is a palpable thread connecting Harsch’s Balkan/Adriatic books, it is their unpredictability in regard to his delight in the bizarre, his range of expressions of rage, and the tendency throughout for the narration to find purchases on odd excrescences of universals, all of which leave readers space for much laughter and a choice as to degrees of chagrin.
The books can be read in any order, though it is suggested that Skulls of Istria be followed by Requiem for a Suicide Vol. 1. Volumes 2 and 3 of that trilogy are forthcoming, volume one will be out in the Fall.
Guess what Rick: That’s not me! Arslan L
I can write you freely now and am perhaps too anxious, but Rick, though I apologize to you for my disconcertainties and contradictions in the past few mails I am sure you understand. But now this is me, the real me, again, your Arslan Levantinov. Let me quickly explain. You see, the succex you brought me brought me (that does not seem the write words) to the great man himself. Yes, that is right, HIS EXCELLENCY Islam Karimov. Islam Karimov. Islam Karimov. (I’m trying to make it bigger, but I’m lost on my new computer.) No jokes. At that point, when I received the invitation to his presidence, I felt myself in conflict. Elation at my elevated status, for he had already as you know promoted me, but this was together with my fear I have no fear of admitting of being boiled alive. Yesterday, much like flesh soup boiling my affairs came to ahead. Called to an audience with the great man himself. Imagine my trepudiation. I stepped baldly into his office. Imagine this greeting: ‘Arslan, what’s the matter with you? Your letter to the American have turned to shit. You aren’t yourself anymore. It’s as if you’re afraid of being discovered writing subversive letters. Are you, Arslan Levantinovich, aftraid of being accused of writing subversive letters?’ How could I lie? ‘Yes. Yes, Excellency, for I have in fact been writing subversive letters. That is the only reason, I swear.’ He laughed—he actually laughed. ‘But, my son, for you are like a son to me, it is impossible. For you to be subversive there must be something to subvert, am I wrong?’ No Excellency. You are right. Interluckily.’ ‘Then listen to me carefully: Only death can subvert my rule. Are you an assassin, Willard? ‘No…(should I tell him I am not even Willard?)’ ‘Then. You see? You are innocent, my son. Permit me to explain something to you. I have modernized my regime. We are now a democracy very closely allied to the most powerful country in the world.’ Here i made the mistake of interrupting. It was involuntary, a subversive—no, a…well, a belch. ‘A democracy, Sir?’ He slammed his hand onto the desk. I was grateful it was not a fist for in such small details a man does decipher the coded signs that dictate life or death. ‘Yes, a democracy!’ He shouted. We hold elections, don’t we? Precisely on the American model. Two parties: may the one with the most money and best voter suppression techniques win. And judging by the results, either party in the United States could take lessons from me. Imagine what it must be like on election day not actually knowing if you will win or not. I can’t imagine. There are many other direct parallels. Take embarrassing family members, like the Bush boys. They all have them. This last one with a wife who has arms like a Greco-Roman wrestler. Who do you think runs the show? And me with my goddamned daughter, my avaricious beauty who had inherited from me everything but tact, subtlety. Hah! Here is something for your friend, that American exile in the land of Melania: Do you know how I finally tamed her? You notice she has behaved properly for nearly two years now? You want to know my secret? They will. And it will help tourism, too. Or have you heard?’ ‘No, Excellency, nothing.’ ‘No? No word on the street? You know now that you can be frank with me, Arslan Levantinovich.’ ‘But it is true, Sir, I have heard nothing.’ ‘All the better: it shall be a revelation. You have of course read the iranian satirist Obeyd e Zakani from the thriteenth century.’ ‘No Excellency.’ ‘Never mind. He was a Persian satirist.’ ‘From the thirteenth century (I wanted to let him know I was paying attention).’ ‘Yes. And he advised Muslims to have anal intercourse with the daughters of their neighbors that the girls’ hymens remain intact, and they thusly remain good and just Muslims. Satire, Arslan Levy, is the recourse of a troubled state. So I called that little bitch, my daughter, into my office, locked the door, pulled up her gown, tore off her thousand euro panties from France, and fucked her right in her ass. Yes, Arslan Levantinovich, it is true. I gave it to her good and long until she promised to behave properly. I remained a good and proper father. And as I said, she has caused no trouble since. So you write that to your friend, for we prosper as a democracy that is also a cauldron of hot and limitless sex, available to any tourist from anywhere in the world.’ No doubt His Excellency has read and approved this sincere and entirely accurate letter by now. So thank you, Rick, and please forgive my injudasish retreat into smudgery. From now on you can expect nothing but but my frank and warm collaboration as first intended, as your people are want to say, going aheadward.
All the best,
Let us take heed of the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
Facing the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all white men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to celebrate together a collegiate football championship.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of elite sport and television sitcoms.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, perhaps it will be Uruguay.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be grown and join hands with grown white boys and white girls as jailed and jailors.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; »and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together,« whites who own it and blacks who work it for minimum wage.2
This is our best hope, and this is all I can go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a pebble of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a collection of Coltrane and Monk LPs as our only solace. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing at the last we will remain imprisoned together.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s white children will be able to sing with sardonic meaning:
My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, much must remain true:
And so let freedom ring from the white communities of New Hampshire.
Let free verse songs ring from the black jail cells of New York.
Leave the freaks alone in the blighted Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let free tuition remain for whites only in the universities of Colorado.
Let clubs rain down freely in the hands of the racist cops of California.
But not only that:
Let free whites range unbotherd by black folk up that mountain in Georgia.
Let free whites gaze at neoliberal separate ain’t equal in Tennessee.
Let free blacks search every hill and molehill of Mississippi looking for work.
From every mountainside I see the same shit in different caption.
And since this is what happens, and when we allow change for the worse, when we imbue every village and every hamlet with yet deeper hatred, in every city’s every black ghetto, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s black children, men and women, young and old, will be able to join hands and if we escape this dystopian and doomed nation—because you know the whites ain’t leavin–we may finally sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!3
The Mysterious Miss Uzbekistan, 2013.
Donald Trump, the man whom my source previously named as her father (with Melania)
An Imperial Arrangement?
The New Tale
My heretofore reliable source has gone off the rails. I received an emergency note from Arslan Levantinovich (as he has recently re-named himself) begging me to delete the article I wrote on his word (he claimed to have evidence he would have to deliver in person, and up to that point he had been perfectly upright and accurate in all our dealings) as to the Paternity of the mysterious Miss Uzbekistan of 2013, to wit: Trump and Melania. He would fill me in later. So what the hell, I wrote it. Now, Mr. Levantinovich, or rather–his transparent anagrammatical code name, by which he signed this note warning me of the possible ill luck descending toward my friend Arslan, Valentin Lasarnovich–begs me to believe that this could turn embarrassing at any point in the future after the imperial marriage of none other than V Putin and the daughter of Islam herself, Gulnara Karimova, at the wedding of which they will announce the identity of their daughter, Miss Uzbekistan, 2013.
Believe what you want. Maybe this is a retraction.
Thank you so very much for all you have done for me and my agency and the nation that owns it. Since your efforts to promote our country we have received evidence of increased interest (and actual investment) in visiting our country, particularly Tashkent. A total of 19 European nations have shown interest/booked flights and hotels, including one secret one that goes by the moniker »E. U.« Isn’t that strange. (Here’s another odd one: We had a group from Puerto Rico fly in and they were listed separately in the computer from the United States yet carried United States passports. I guess you can imagine how long they were clearing customs…) 18 Asian/Middle Eastern nations showed increased interest and actual investment as well, even within Uzbekistan. We had five caravans from Karakalpakstan alone in April and the first half of May! None going the other way, but I attribute that to the season. Australian visits are up nearly 50% over last year, and we received our first governmental delegation of ‘Kiwis’, I hope it i sall right to call them. In a big city, of course, there will be some problems and perhaps over time we will be sufficiently savvy in tourist matters that we will never put the Kiwis with the Indonesians again. I know Geography about as well as the next person on a flight were I on a flight, but I never realized they shared an island with Indonesia! And apparently unhappily. Wait—oh, my assistant, L., points out that the Puerto Ricans actually never did clear customs and were sent on the first flight back. I have so many questions for you, Rick, and let that be one of them, if you could shed light on that. But primarily I write to thank you, tell you how well the work is going, how happy my superiors are with me, and finally to ask you to allow me to withdraw my permission to be in your novel or any novel you may write. And please do not ‘fictionalize’ me. I ask this as your friend, knowing I could never stop you no matter how many favors our Montenegrin guests come to owe me (astonishing how much like Russians these people are, and I mean that they share the finest qualitites!).
Of course, things may change,
And until then, or before then even, I will remain
P.S. If you post this on your blog, please consider ‘Tashkent Nights’ and if you could use the attached photo we would much appreciate the gesture.