EstablishMENT by Vahe Avetian
BOOK REVIEW ESTABLISHMENT: STORIES, ARTICLES, POEMS, TRANSLATIONS. By Vahe Avetian (290 pages, Yerevan, 2005)
In her review of Vahe’s first book, INDEPENDENCE ARMY (Yerevan, 2005) Ashkhen Keshishian said it was “the best thing that could happen to our otherwise gray and moribund literary scene.
Another reviewer went further and called it a “volcanic eruption.” In his second book, ESTABLISHMENT, Vahe continues his struggle against ignorance and intolerance, the twin sources of most of our problems.
When told by hostile readers – make it, psychoanalyzed by phony Freudians – that his criticism is a result of a suppressed childhood trauma and a way of settling personal scores with unidentified adversaries, he explains he is only introducing critical criteria established in the West. At best, he goes on, “I only translate and paraphrase for readers who may not be familiar with foreign languages.” ‘
Elsewhere he writes: “The consensus about me seems to be that I am a megalomaniac and a self-centered egoist because I speak incessantly about myself. It follows, as night follows day, that those who speak in the name of the nation and mankind are humble altruists.” I find this type of scorching sarcasm irresistible. If others find it unsettling, so much the better.
A word of warning: Vahe’s style is colloquial, direct and deliberately crude. If you are easily ruffled by unbuttoned exuberance or provoked by unleashed fury this book is not for you. But if you like to be exposed to the testimony of an honest witness, if you prefer your vodka straight, and if you are not afraid to shake the hand of an hombre whose grip is bone-crushing, Vahe is your man!
Ara Baliozian Kitchener, Ontario, Canada Monday, January 23, 2006