Friday, August 11, 2017

the last book I ever read (An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira, excerpt nine)

from An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter by César Aira:

Mounted squads emerged periodically from El Tambo – a complex of low buildings adjoined by extensive corrals – with all their firearms blazing, momentarily breaking the rings of savages, which reformed within seconds. The dairy cows had lain down; they looked like dark lumps. The dances of the Indian horsemen attained extremes of fantasy when it came to displaying their captives. This was a distinctive feature of the raids, almost a defining trait. Stealing women, as well as livestock, was what made it all worthwhile. In fact, it was an extremely rare occurrence, and functioned more as excuse and propitiatory myth. Unsuccessful as usual, the Indians at El Tambo displayed the captives they had not been able to take, with defiant and, again, extremely graphic gestures.

They came around the hill by the stream, a little group of them, lances raised, yelling: Huinca! Kill! Arrghh! The loudest, in the middle of the group, was triumphantly holding a “captive,” perched sideways on the neck of his horse. Naturally this was not a captive at all, but another Indian, disguised as a woman; he was making effeminate gestures, but no one could have fallen for such a crude trick, and even the Indians seemed to be treating it as a joke.

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