In August of 2015 I was honored to publish a story by Michael Alenyikov, "Negative Reservations".
My Post on Ivan and Misha November 29, 2011)
I first encountered the work of Michael Alenyikov when I read his wonderful collection of interrelated short stories Ivan and Misha. I loved this work. . Here are my opening remarks:
" Ivan and Misha by Michael Alenyikov is an interrelated set of short stories about two fraternal twins, one bi-sexual and one gay, and their father, Lyov. The first story is set in Kiev (the largest city in the Ukraine) in Russia, where they were born. In the brief prologue (set in the 1980s at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union) we learn that the wife of Lyov and mother of the boys died before they were six. The father is a doctor. We learn he only received one year of medical training and was sent out into the horrors of WWII in the Ukraine to remove limbs from soldiers, without anesthetics. They live in a large apartment complex in the style of the times. The father keeps promising his sons a better life, a new mother, a new apartment, but nothing really happens until he moves the family to New York City and the stories start in the late 1990s"
"Izzy" is another wonderful work of art from Michael Alenyikov. Michael works slowly and meticulously, as would an old world craftsman wanting only to produce perfection. His work feels in the grand European tradition of Proust, Zweig, Balzac, and Mann. My primary purpose is to let my readers know that they can read one of his short stories online.
"Izzy" is set in San Francisco. I think it is in the mid-1970s to early eighties, in a time before a one bed room condo cost a million dollars and traffic was not dominated by Google buses. Our lead character, Eddie, has been sent by his boyfriend, David, just completing medical school in Boston, to look for a place for the two of them to live in San Francisco. David hoped to get on as a medical resident at a hospital there. This as at a time when being gay was regarding by most as something to be kept hidden. People came to San Francisco to live in the open. The plague of AIDS was lurking still, but there.
David told Eddie to look up his friend Izzy when he gif there. Izzy, who moved to San Francisco from Canada, will show him around the city. The story opens with Izzy and David in bed. One of the things being subtly done in "Izzy" is a celebration of the joy of being gay before AIDS, when you could have sex without fear of death, about a time passed probably forever.
Michael does a fantastic job creating a sense of place, to letting us feel we are a young man from formal rigid Boston in what was once a magic city. It is a great pleasure to follow him as he wanders the city. The sex scenes, the polymorphic feel of the city, in the eyes of Eddie and Izzy, are very well done. We go from bathhouses and no last name sex to the parks of the city to elegant restaurant. We go to a funeral, we know it is an AIDS death but those there are not yet aware of the coming plague.
The story takes us years into Eddie's future. He goes through numerous moves and relationships, he breaks up with David. He makes a good career but through it all we sense he wishes he was back in San Francisco.
Michael does a great job in developing his characters, the sex scenes are very well done.
I strongly endorse the purchase of Ivan and Misha to all lovers of fine literature.
I look forward to reading more of his work.
"Moments later, as if nothing had happened, we stood looking out the window at a sky filled with clouds both leaving and arriving at the same time; blue emerging from gray, one moment brash, the next wistful, tentative; and below us, wind steamrolled through the park, stirring a canopy of restless green leaves into a landscape of hills and valleys, as if a thick blanket covered the limbs of countless lovers wrestling unseen below." From "Izzy"
Michael Alenyikov is the author of Ivan and Misha, which won the Northern California Book Award for Fiction and was a Finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction; in 2013 he was awarded the Gina Berriault Award by San Francisco State University. His writings have appeared in The Georgia Review, Descant (Pushcart nominee), The James White Review, The Catamaran Literary Reader, Jonathan, Modern Words, New York Stories, The Gay and Lesbian Review, forthcoming in The Chicago Quarterly Review, and anthologized in several editions of Best Gay Stories (Lethe Press). He is a past MacDowell Fellow. Alenyikov is a native New Yorker, growing up in the three large outer boroughs (with a few years in L.A. wedged in between the Bronx and Brooklyn). He is a clinical psychologist (now disabled with myalgic encephalomyelitis), and has been a Boston cab driver, a bookstore clerk, and an interactive media writer and content developer. He has made San Francisco his home for the past 22 years. www.michaelalenyikov.com.