Book Review: ‘I am a Phenomenon Quite Out of the Ordinary’

An excellent review of ‘I am a Phenomenon Quite Out of the Ordinary’: The Notebooks, Diaries and Letters of Daniil Kharms edited and translated by Anthony Anemone and Peter Scotto has appeared in The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 92, No. 3 (July 2014). Reviewer Neil Carrick writes: “In producing this volume Anemone and Scotto have faced not just a challenge of translation, but also one of organization and interpretation. They have extracted material from the notebooks and arranged it in chronological order. They have added a potted biography, notes on their approach to the selection and treatment of the notebook entries, a chronology of events from Kharms’s life and times, a glossary of people, places and concepts, and a copious commentary to contextualize the entries. Yet, for all this imposed order, they have striven to represent the ‘wild heterogeneity’ (p. 45) of the original notebooks. The result is a fascinating, if disjointed, read. . . . Whether they represent a new genre or a collision of genres, the notebooks certainly offer another point of departure for elaborating Kharms’s artistic legacy. . . . Remaining true to [Iakov] Druskin’s view that life and art are close to indistinguishable in an author like Kharms, Anemone and Scotto have adopted a policy of maximum disclosure. This excellent compilation of Kharms’s notebooks can be seen, therefore, as both a biographical portrait and a literary-critical assessment.”