a few years ago, i read imperium by ryszard kapuscinski, and fell in love. time went by, and i forgot how incredible the prose is. today i started re-reading it and oh my god damn. my heart was being pulled right out of my body. even if you don’t think you give a shit about the subject matter (the soviet union), read it anyway because you are missing out on lyrical prose that marches through the farthest reaches of the former empire and makes it all so tangible.
i wanted to share a beautiful passage i read today:
In the evening, Nik-Nik orders me to climb high up in a tower.
From the tower I will be able to see how the Oil Rocks shine, and Nik-Nik says that I cannot leave until I have seen this. The tower stands in the middle of the sea, the sea is black, although it is called Caspian, and I am climbing up to heaven on stairs that creak because they are made of wood, the whole tower is made of wood nailed together, it reaches to the stars, and although the wind rocks it like a stalk, it stands, gniotsa nie lamiotsa (it will bend but it won’t break), so on this tower I am climbing up to heaven, it is dark here, actually it is black like the sea, we are walking into tar, I prefer not to look anymore, I would like to stop, enough is enough, but I can hear Nik-Nik going farther, so I go too, into the darkness, into the abyss, into the chasm. Everything is becoming unreal, because I can no longer see anything, meaning that I can see only this thing of wood around me, rough, unplaned, as if hairy, a piece of raw wood wedged into the sky, in an utterly gratuitous place, jutting out into the darkness, improbable, abstract.