Hovhannes Tekgyozyan’s novel Skinpain is a modern story in three parts. The action takes place in the same territory, Yerevan. But the city is perceived from completely different vantage points in each of those three parts. The same events are narrated by three, completely different individuals, Tigran, the Cat, and the youth with the profile of a Roman god.
The protagonist of the novel, Tigran, is an inner city youth. The city is Yerevan, for sure, the capital of Armenia. Tigran has a mother, brother, sister, a dog named Bear. His father has died. Tigran is an actor, works in the theater, and has parts in television series. He has friends, a girlfriend. The urban chaos and the immorality prevalent in human relations surround the hero. The transition between political regimes, the confusion nestled in human mentality, the wretched past, the foggy vision of the future, the absence of hope, and the slow death of the soul comprise the spiritual world of the hero, Tigran.
However, this is only the outer description of all that is portrayed in the novel. The novel has a diary-like structure, but there is no chronological order. Everything seemingly happens to the hero internally, in his brain, in his nerves and senses. His memories are associative. Even the outer world is presented through Tigran’s perception. The inanimate objects surrounding him are creatures with which the hero has a spiritual connection and a fight.
Even the child whom he remembers is him, his dog is him, his apartment is him, his mistress the Cat is him (starting from the middle of the novel it speaks in the first person), his dear city is him, the city heat is in him, the orphan, dry, and black December is in him as well. The city has died, which means he has died. He is guilty of the death of the city, and perhaps it is not in vain that he is accused of killing the city. His skin hurts. All his nerves pass over his skin, and the pain is unbearable.
The red horsemen came and passed having become a whole with their red horses and raised a red dust with their hoofs. They were followed by the black horsemen. There is expectation of light, hope, and happiness from the apartment window. The apartment has been crushed and a new one can be built at no cost. It was a little palm-size apartment, where his father’s coffin had found enough room, very surprisingly. This coffin eventually is dragged out from the same window where happiness was to enter.
Reconciliation must come. Tigran or the Cat, who are two different “I’s” of the same person, two orientations in all conceivable senses, must live in peace with his apartment, his city, and himself. His apartment stretches a hand of reconciliation, as does his childhood and his past. The letter lying on the table tells us about the skinpain of the apartment and the city, but this is no end. The window will bring you happiness.
This is no end…
The window will bring you happiness.
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