Sophie Pinkham at Bookforum:
In Moscow, Limonov fell passionately in love with a beautiful young woman named Tanya. The new couple soon emigrated to New York; Tanya wanted to be a model, and Limonov wanted to be famous. They lived in a fleabag apartment until Tanya ran off with a French photographer, leaving Limonov to weep, drink, masturbate, and have sex with homeless men. (“I lay there smiling and thought about how I must have been the only Russian poet who had ever been smart enough to fuck a black man in a New York vacant lot,” the narrator remarks in It’s Me, Eddie, one of Limonov’s many “fictional memoirs.”) Eventually Limonov got a job as a rich man’s butler. He liked to take girls back to the mansion and do filthy things to them in the master’s bed; that was his version of class warfare. But his American friends were unwilling to entertain his fantasies about revolutionary terrorism, and in America, he had concluded, writers had it even worse than they did in the Soviet Union. He moved to Paris. French intellectuals were amused by his violently ironic posturing, his toasts to Stalin, and his mockery of Solzhenitsyn. He published two memoir-novels that made him a minor star.
When perestroika came, Limonov wasn’t pleased. The Soviet legend was the legend of his childhood, after all, and what replaced it was a miserable neoliberalism. Also, his fame in France had plateaued, and he was running out of material for his fictional memoirs. It was time for a new chapter, with higher stakes.