Elkie and Eidel

Elkie and Eidel wandered up through a curious throng attracted by rumors of unrest on the premises. While the siege developed, most people took the opportunity to inspect the ruins of the burned-down shed and eye the blackened, not quite circular circumference of the former corpse pile, mercifully heaped with some rotten burlap sacks that concealed what lay there still, charred, undigested and stinking. Eidel’s nose was buried in a perfumed handkerchief, a sweet perfume, not to Musya’s taste at all. If Krutonog’s was such a dump, she wondered, why did the girl hang around?

Elkie cocked a wave at the kitchen windows. “Good day, Tovarisch!” They’d always got on well; Anton waved a cookie in reply. “Mandelbrodt! He’s got mandelbrodt!” Eidel exclaimed, darting forward. Her eyes began to search. “A ladder—can someone find a ladder?”

Hodeh spoke up. “There are no ladders.”

Eidel looked around at her. “I suppose you would know.”

“I do know,” said Hodeh.

“I hate it here,” Eidel said. Returning to Elkie’s side she repeated, “I hate it here so much.” Making sympathetic sounds Elkie caressed her friend’s shoulder blades. As Eidel returned the crumpled silk to her nostrils, Musya’s cloyed.

“It’s easier to ignore the smells,” she pointed out.

“So you go ahead,” said Eidel. The silk—not real—stayed put.

I was still writing LAMENT when I noticed an article on-line about how, since 2013 when Putin’s “Gay Propaganda” law went into effect, gay and lesbian content is routinely censored from Russian translations of popular foreign novels, for instance English-language books for young adults. Attributes, dialogue, story lines: gone. I found this a shame, really very saddening. But as someone who wishes very much that her books (none of which stint on the LGBT content) should receive translations into Russian, I was of good cheer. Though they’re secondary characters, the lesbians in LAMENT and their lesbianism are so essential, so deeply embedded in major plot highlights, they must resist cutting. Those lesbians aren’t going anywhere, I remain confident.


On May 20 of this year the wonderful Brighton Beach Pride held its second annual parade down the block from me. The repression in their home countries in the former Soviet Union is sending many brave dissidents and asylum seekers to my neighborhood. It was an honor to march with them.

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