Wednesday, May 18, 2022

the last book I ever read (Rebellion by Joseph Roth, excerpt seven)

from Rebellion by Joseph Roth (translated by Michael Hofmann):

When Andreas set foot on the street outside, he felt the world had been freshly painted and renovated, he no longer felt at home in it; just as you feel like a stranger when you return to your room and it’s been painted a different color. The movements of people, vehicles, and dogs were all strange and baffling to him. Particularly odd was the swarming of bicycles on a busy square, like light-colored mosquitoes in among the big buses and trams, trucks, and black-covered hackney cabs. A vibrant yellow vehicle swaggered, rattled, and surged across the square. On its side was the burning red legend: ‘Smoke Iota Cigarettes.’ It was the van of insanity. Insantiy sat inside it, surrounded by four vibrant yellow and burning red walls, and his breath wafted destructively out of the little barred windows. Strange that it’s taken me until now to see the connections, thinks Andreas. That car spreads the germ of insanity through the world. That car has driven past me thousands of times. How stupid of me! It was never a mail van! What would the post office be doing with Iota cigarettes? What does the post office care about what cigarettes people smoke?

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