Andrei Gelasimov, Marian Schwartz
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Masterfully translated from the original Russian by award-winning translator Marian Schwartz, Thirst tells the story of 20-year-old Chechen War veteran Kostya. Maimed beyond recognition by a tank explosion, he spends weeks on end locked inside his apartment, his sole companions the vodka bottles spilling from the refrigerator. But soon Kostya’s comfortable if dysfunctional cocoon is torn open when he receives a visit from his army buddies who are mobilized to locate a missing comrade. Through this search for his missing friend, Kostya is able to find himself.
father left right after breakfast. “Aren’t you going to work?” Slavka said. “No,” I said. “I don’t have any work right now.” “That’s good.” He shook his head very seriously. “Papa and Mama always have a lot of work and they don’t stay with us.” “You don’t have to stay with me anymore,” Natashka said. “I’m going to figure skating soon.” “You’re not holding the pencil right,” I told Slavka. “Let me show you how it’s done.” “Do you know how?” He looked at me mistrustfully. “Anyway, we’re out
exactly like it. But without the straps. She doesn’t have a lamp like this, either. It’s huge—bigger than a wash-basin. And there are four more switched on inside it. A real spotlight. We don’t need one like that for ironing. I always help her iron. “What are you doing on the floor?” The doctor’s voice reached me from the hall. “All right now, get up! I told you to climb onto the table. Why did you lie down on the floor?” “It’s too skinny. I’ll fall off.” “Climb up! Enough chatter. Help him.
himself the wrong way? Eventually, though, it gets easier. The hand picks up the habit. It slips around all by itself. You have only to sling your machine-gun across your shoulder. Or hear them shouting there in the ruins. Right shoulder then left. Right then left. Not like in your copybook. The opposite. There and here, there and here. Like the bolt on a machinegun. Just not so fast. Because it’s a hand, after all, not a bolt. But if you could, you’d swipe it as fast as a bolt. Because you
Pashka opens the door and sits in the back seat. “Great!” he says. “They have everything except special plates for the microwave.” “Enough already! Forget about it,” Genka said. “Don’t pick that up. It’s good luck that it broke.” “The kids are running around,” I said. “They’re gonna step on it.” So I started picking it up. Especially since I was already under the table and I was going to have to work up the energy to get back on my stool. Under the table. So my head wouldn’t spin so
his phone. “Tell him to move his buns.” Five minutes later Pashka climbed in the back without a word, slapped me on the shoulder, and started staring out the window. As if he’d never seen his own yard before. Never in his life. “How’s the family?” I turned to face him across the seat. He shrugged in reply. This money business had created a lot of tension for them. He and Genka had actually decided to split up the business. They’d stopped seeing each other altogether and started drinking