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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Guide to the Stars

When I got to the store, Russia's most hated and beloved man was already there. With his short haircut and trademark black jacket and jeans, he looked much younger than his age. Eduard Limonov, 55, writer and leader of the National Bolshevik Party, was signing copies of a new edition of some of his stories.

The presentation of "American Journeys," containing stories written as an emigr? in America and France, didn't exactly gather a large crowd, although poet and journalist Dmitry Bykov, a Howard Stern look-alike, came accompanied by two of his girlfriends.

I came out of respect and love for Limonov's most famous book, "It's Me, Eddie," a semi-autobiographical and scandalous novel about the life of down and out emigr?s in New York. It instantly became my favorite book since "Catcher in the Rye."

For many of my "cultured" friends, "Eddie," and Limonov's other writing, is still taboo. I made myself dozens of enemies among boys and girls driven into a rage by "this fascist," even though they wouldn't be able to explain what exactly makes up his fascism.

His political activity has had a bad effect on his popularity as a writer. Young people who see the National Bolsheviks screaming anti-government slogans on TV do not tend to read Limonov's books. The tales of poor, outcast but free-spirited people such as Eddie and his friends - mainly emigr?s, blacks and Jews - hold little interest for them compared to the fictitious heroes of trendier writers like Viktor Pelevin.

I first met Limonov several years ago on the street for a brief interview for a news agency.

"Are you one of us?" he asked me, pointing to the handmade hammer-and-sickle insignia pinned on my leather jacket. It had been given to me by my rather leftist girlfriend of the time and resembled the National Bolshevik Party symbol.

I shook my head in denial. Never a follower of any party, I had always tried to be as independent as my hero Eddie, whose personality still lurks somewhere inside the real Limonov.

Like many Russian writers, Limonov is confronted with the challenge of living outside of Eddie, the King Eddipus of modern literature, and the bizarre image of a romantic bad-boy that he cultivated.

As fellow writer Viktoria Tokareva once pointed out, "His books will outlive him. They are higher than he is."

Perhaps one day he'll manage to change his image and turn into a boring opposition figure.

"I will be fighting with my own shadow, but I will try to survive," Limonov once told me.