EVGUENIE SOKOLOV. Serge Gainsbourg
137 pgs. Tamtam Books. 1998
"In 1980, French provocateur Serge Gainsbourg expanded his range from composer/singer and actor to that of novelist. An English translation of his one and only book "Evguenie Sokolov" has now been made available in on this side of the Atlantic via the small publisher TamTam Books in Los Angeles, California.
The book is essentially a fictional memoir of the character Evguenie Sokolov as related from his hospital bed. We learn that, from an early age, Sokolov was afflicted with an extreme and apparently terminal case of flatulence. While that may seem like a one-note premise on the level of a third grade joke (or perhaps an episode of "South Park"), the detail of the ensuing problems and situations lifts this story to a much higher level.
From his early school days to his stint in the military, Sokolov's life was always affected by his gastric affliction. At one point, he set his sites on an artistic career and began to express his talents with drawings and paintings. While posessing a fair talent for the medium, a revelation eventually occurred. During one of Sokolov's drawing sessions, a particularly violent outburst of gas forced his hand dramatically across the page. So impressed was he by the result that he decided to purposely execute drawings in this manner.
In time, an art dealer discovered Sokolov's work and he became a highly respected member of the arts community in the field of hyper-abstraction. His drawings and paintings eventually found their way into collections around the globe from Germany to the USA. Unfortunately, Sokolov's gastric problems eventually stopped. This equivilant to writer's block sent the artist into a heavy period of research in order to try to intentionally recreate his previous flatulence misfortune. Although successful with his efforts to regain his former glory, it eventually proved to be his undoing.
"Evguenie Sokolov" is a book which brims with great wit and sometimes sickening detail. In the long-run, Gainsbourg's spirit shines through with this fine translation from the original French. Indeed, through Serge Gainsbourg's pen, Evguenie Sokolov can be seen as an artist who helped to put the 'f' back in 'art'."