Friday, March 2, 2018

the last book I ever read (Manuel Vázquez Montalbán's The Angst-Ridden Executive, excerpt five)

from The Angst-Ridden Executive (A Pepe Carvalho Investigation) by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán:

‘You’ve hit rock-bottom,’ he thought to himself, and he pulled a box of Montecristos from the glove compartment and lit one of them with speed and the anticipation of great pleasure, with his lighter, as if he was drinking the gas flame through the Havana. When I die, the memory of those times will disappear with me. And also the memory of the people who, in bringing me into this world, gave me a first-class vantage point from which to view the spectacle of their own tragedy. Carvalho hadn’t just watched the spectacle. He’d made it his own, and had tried to transmit it to the younger generation. Up and down the Ramblas young and old people alike had expelled the fear that was left in them, on the day that the Dictator died. Happiness in their hearts—but silence on their lips. The shops ran out of bottles of cheap champagne that day; the streets and terraces were full of people enjoying the pleasure of being together without the great crushing shadow hanging over them. But still in silence, still with that cautiousness with words that they had learned in the years of the Terror as a guarantee of at least a mediocre survival. In some ways he understood that past. He knew its language. On the other hand the future opened by Franco’s death seemed foreign to him, like the water of a river that you shouldn’t drink, but that you wouldn’t want to drink either. Gausachs, Fontanillas . . . the crooks of the new situation.

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