Sunday, May 10, 2020

the last book I ever read (Optic Nerve by María Gainza, excerpt seven)

from Optic Nerve by María Gainza (Translated by Thomas Bunstead):

One morning, Amalia got a phone call. A woman at the other end of the line said she was looking for someone to teach her Spanish. She was Japanese, and had recently arrived in Argentina. She needed to practice conversation: she had the basics, but wanted to become more fluent. Amalia’s parents are Japanese, and she was working as an in-house translator at a publishing firm at the time. It had been a while since she’d given Spanish classes to compatriots of her parents, but something in the woman’s voice—which was calm, and gravelly but also honeyed—intrigued her. They agreed to meet the following day. The woman had an apartment on Avenida Libertador, and when Amalia described the entrance, I knew exactly which building it was. She took the elevator up to the twenty-first floor and, unaccustomed to heights, lost her stomach slightly when she stepped out. The woman let her in, a chill elegance to her demeanor. Her dark hair scraped back into a bun, and her skin taut, she was stunningly, alarmingly beautiful, like a character out of a spy movie. She led Amalia through into a bright room: floor-to-ceiling windows, white walls, low armchairs, and a dotting of chrome lamps. Amalia, her momentary queasiness past, went over to the window. The apartment overlooked the Hippodrome and, there being no balcony, she found nothing but thin air between her and the rings in the sand all that way below.

“Horses, I say to the estate agents. We want a view of horses.”

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