Lost Children Archive: A Novel by Valeria Luiselli:
My husband has taken out his recording gear, and is sitting by the door of our room, holding up his boom. I sit next to him quietly, not wanting my presence to modify whatever’s he’s trying to sample. We sit there, cross-legged on the cement floor, resting our backs against the wall. We open beer cans and roll cigarettes. In the room next door, a dog barks relentlessly. From another room, three or four doors down, a man and his teenage daughter appear. He is slow and large; she is toothpick-legged, dressed only in a swimsuit and an unzipped jacket. They walk to a pickup parked in front of their door and step up. When the motor roars, the dog stops barking, then resumed more anxiously. I sip my beer, following the pickup as it drives away. The image of those two strangers—father, daughter, no mother—getting into a pickup and driving together to a possible swimming pool for night practice in some town nearby reminds me of something Jack Kerouac said about Americans: After seeing them, “you ended up finally not knowing any more whether a jukebox is sadder than a coffin.” Though maybe Kerouac had said it of Robert Frank’s pictures in his book The Americans, and not of Americans in general. My husband records a few more minutes of the dog barking, until, summoned by the children—in urgent need of help with the toothpaste and towels—we step back inside.