Thursday, March 24, 2011

David Duffy

From a Q & A with David Duffy, author of Last to Fold:

A complex protagonist with quite a back-story—where did the idea come from?

It started with the name—Electrifikady Turbanevich Vlost, which he quite sensibly shortens to Turbo. My first working title was Call Me Turbo. There was a time in the Soviet Union when parents in their zeal gave their children patriotic names—Len (short for Lenin), Ninel (Lenin spelled backwards), Melor (Marx, Engels, October Revolution) are some better known examples. I first encountered them in David Remnick’s book on the fall of the USSR, Lenin’s Tomb when I was getting ready to visit Russia. We all know how cruel children can be, picking on what singles out some poor kid as different, so I started thinking about one who gets saddled with a real mouthful. About the same time, I got interested in the Gulag, and I read Anne Applebaum’s heart-wrenching history, Gulag, about all the senseless betrayal, cruelty, fear, pain and death that that uniquely Russian institution represents. I was struck by the fact that many crossed the line from prisoner to guard or officer and back again, something else uniquely Russian. So I imagined how a kid saddled with the crazy name would turn out if he got the chance to move up through the nomenklatura, or privileged class, as an officer in one of its leading institutions, the KGB, having spent a good part of his childhood in the camps, especially given the shame factor of ex-inmates and that no one in Russia wants to acknowledge or face up to this aspect of their past—which makes everyone complicit. Let’s just say there’s a wealth of material for anyone who’s interested in people and their characters and motivations, which any novelist must be.

But you set the story in New York.

I thought about trying...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue