Wednesday, September 4, 2019

the last book I ever read (What You Have Heard Is True by Carolyn Forché, excerpt ten)

from What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché:

The lieutenant colonel kept his desk clean, but in the ashtray there were several twisted paper clips. I noticed that one of the drawers in the file cabinet wasn’t quite closed, and it crossed my mind to go leafing through the manila folders that I could see plainly from my chair. The second hand clicked audibly. There was no wife, there were no children; the only photograph in the room was the portrait of the president of the republic wearing a dark business suit and a blue-and-white sash such as beauty contestants wear. Somehow this reminded me of Leonel’s story of the Miss Universe pageant held here just two years earlier. “So much poverty,” Leonel had said, “and this is what the government spends money on, this is what they’re interested in, a goddamn beauty contest. Well, the people protested as of course they would. They even occupied the cathedral for a week, and when the protest march was fired upon by security forces, as marches here always are, thirty-seven people lost their lives. They say fifteen, but they are wrong. It was thirty-seven. Most of the dead were students. The president of the republic called them Communists, of course, and charged them with plotting to overthrow the government. All because of Miss Universe.”

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