Wednesday, April 8, 2020

the last book I ever read (Valeria Luiselli's Lost Children Archive: A Novel, excerpt three)

from Lost Children Archive: A Novel by Valeria Luiselli:

And then the boy turned ten. We took him out to a good restaurant, gave him his presents (no toys). I got him a Polaroid camera and several boxes of film, both black-and-white and color. His father got him a kit for the trip: a Swiss Army knife, a pair of binoculars, a flashlight, and a small compass. At his request, we also agreed to deviate from the planned itinerary and spend the next day, the first of our trip, at Baltimore’s National Aquarium.

He’d done a school project about Calypso, the five-hundred-pound turtle with a missing front flipper that lives there, and had been obsessed with her ever since.

That night, after dinner, my husband packed his suitcase, I packed mine, and we let the boy and the girl pack theirs. Once the children were asleep, I repacked for them. They’d chosen the most unlikely combinations of things. Their suitcases were portable Duchampian disasters: miniature clothes tailored for a family of miniature bears, a broken light saber, a lone Rollerblade wheel, ziplock bags full of plastic everything. I replaced all of it with real pants, real skirts, real underwear, real everything. My husband and I lined up the four suitcases by the door, plus our seven boxes and our recording materials.

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