Friday, July 21, 2017

the last book I ever read (My Fathers' Ghost is Climbing in the Rain: A Novel, excerpt two)

from My Fathers' Ghost is Climbing in the Rain: A Novel by Patricio Pron:

Sometimes I couldn’t sleep; when that happened, I’d get up off the sofa and walk toward my host’s bookshelves, always different but also always, without fail, located beside the sofa, as if reading were possible only in the perpetual discomfort of furniture in which one is neither properly seated nor completely stretched out. Then I would look at the books and think how I used to read them one right after the next but how at that point they left me completely cold. On those bookshelves there were almost never books by those dead writers I’d read when I was a poor teenager in a poor neighborhood of a poor city in a poor country, and I was stupidly insistent on becoming part of that imaginary republic to which they belonged, a republic with vague borders in which writers wrote in New York or in London, in Berlin or in Buenos Aires, and yet I wasn’t of that world. I had wanted to be like them, and the only proof that remained of that determination, and the resolve that came with it, was that trip to Germany, the country where the writers that most interested me had lived and had died and, above all, had written, and a fistful of books that already belonged to a literature I had tried and failed to escape; a literature like the nightmare of a dying writer, or, better yet, of a dying, talentless Argentine writer; of a writer, let’s say, who is not the author of The Aleph, around whom we all inevitably revolve, but rather the author of On Heroes and Tombs, someone who spent his whole life believing that he was talented and important and morally unquestionable and who at the very end discovers that he’s completely without talent and behaved ridiculously and brunched with dictators, and then he feels ashamed and wants his country’s literature to be at the level of his miserable body of work so that it wasn’t written in vain and might even have one or two followers. Well, I had been part of that literature, and every time I thought about it, it was as if in my head an old man was shouting Tornado! Tornado! announcing the end of days, as in a Mexican film I had once seen; except that the days had kept coming and I had been able to grab onto the trunks of those trees that remained standing in the tornado only by quitting writing, completely quitting writing and reading, and by seeing books for what they were, the only thing that I’d ever been able to call my home, but complete strangers in that time of pills and vivid dreams in which I no longer remembered nor wanted to remember what a damn home was.

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