The sleeping pills had finally worn off.
Her left eye opened, a slit, and she remembered to breathe.
Yo no entiendo nada de esto.
The world seemed on its side, wrong, as she viewed it then. Everything around her was new and nothing really belonged to her and, yet, she had to make it all familiar.
She scanned the room—
a recliner next to the window, the television still on, the armoire, two lamps, the ordinary bedding, the awful green carpet, the silver-streaked wallpaper with silhouettes of sleek bamboo shafts.
She had taken an inventory of all the things in the bedroom and repeated the order back to herself over and over again. Then, she noticed her rings scattered like rolled dice on one of the bedside tables. It was all there they way she’d left it the night before.
Her eyes … Read More »
translated by Cayley Taylor
It starts, always, in the temples, an almost imperceptible throbbing at first, and in the precise moment he acknowledges it, that pulsing starts to grow until he feels as if his head is going to explode and his vision gets cloudy and the distance between him and the objects surrounding him wavers and the arm that he stretches out for the phone is slow in reaching it and the emergency medical service number doesn’t show up in the list though he knows that he’s added it to the phone’s memory. But it’s not just the head. The chest replicates the throbbing of the temples, the thorax narrows and the ribs press down on something that he can only think to call heart, he can’t breathe and the air doesn’t enter his open mouth. He … Read More »
translated by Adam Morris
They so happened to be born in a rather small town between two more or less larger ones, something they couldn’t get used to because it meant they had the whole highway to stare at. And they stared. And it so happened that on the shoulder of the highway was a store run from out of a house built in nineteen thirty-something, its front steps a set of bleachers for the girls. They’d sit there, all afternoon. Some cars went by, another stopped. Titi let her thin legs stick out onto the sidewalk, her mosquito bites scabbed into little cones of blood from so much scratching. Her t-shirt went down to her thighs, if you could call them thighs. The traveler begged her pardon and went inside. Titi hid her laughter. Lina, three years … Read More »
from the future Spanish of Mario Bellatin
translated by David Shook
Josué’s mother was blind. Not always. She lost her eyes one at a time, starting at about age 49, in people years. That’s seven years old for a Chihuahua, which, though a little early, isn’t exceptionally unusual. The process began with a slight milkiness at the perimeter of her bulging left eye. Aw, she’s got cataracts, the show circuit groomers cooed. Know-nothings with no creativity, no curiosity. She had uveitis. Her ophthalmologist explained the disease by making a drawing on a whiteboard: tiny triangles, which she explained were the eye’s pumps, shedding off the eye’s regular waste emissions—mostly a solution of minerals and salts. The regular wastes were represented by tiny squares that looked like grains of rough-cut salt, maybe Himalayan. The ophthalmologist prescribed two medicines: … Read More »
translated by Andrea Rosenberg
1- BLACK BALL RELOADED
Author’s first look at the bande dessinée Black Ball
Yesterday I received some information about the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. I replied that toward the end of his life he’d seemed unable to bear the too loud a solitude in which he lived. So he’d climbed out onto a window ledge on an upper floor of the nursing home they’d put him in and leaped into the void. The response I received said that during his last years he’d been obsessed with the bustling pigeons he could see through the windows of the ward as he lay in bed. Maybe he wanted to turn into a bird, said the message. Maybe that’s why he’d attempted to fly, as if he were one of them. The person writing to me was my psychoanalyst. … Read More »
1. I come home to a burnt-down house in Lund. You’re back in Malmö. I’m watching my parents gather half-scorched photographs in the garden, like raking autumn leaves before winter. Their faces are covered in soot. In despair, I take my dirty luggage from the island of Nagu to Russia, where there’s neither emo nor emotion left to feel. In St. Petersburg I buy a typewriter, one of those Smith Corona’s I’ve always dreamed of and I steal a stool from a hardware store. I choose a busy street and sit down to type. People walk by and ask me for a quote, an affirmation or a recipe for princesstårta. For the recipe I make sure to add There’s no princess without the marzipan. In exchange for my typing people leave me their … Read More »
Translated by Audrey Hall
On the outskirts of Punta de Piedra, there is a bar a good distance beyond the last line of houses. From the untidy plain arises what is essentially a cube of gray concrete with small windows and a parking lot. Actually, to simulate the impression it always made on me when I looked at it—with the houses of Punta de Piedra in the distance and the plain stripped down to what the universe must have looked like hundreds of millions of years ago—I would have to resort to a simple, coarse, improbable image: an art nouveau building on some remote, uninhabited planet.
My grandfather used to go round there on Friday nights, but I wasn’t allowed to go with him. So one day in February 1990, my friend Marcos and I hopped on our bikes … Read More »
translated by Adam Morris
There’s a layer of dust covering things, protecting them from us. Dark sooty powder, fragments of salt and seaweed, tons of grainy matter that goes crossing the ocean and transforms itself into transparent fibers deposited little by little to preserve that which remained underneath. Almost nothing has been thought about this phenomenon. It’s probably all an enormous camouflage operation, of equalizing a remote signal that we’d easily perceive in the absence of this mountain of tiny accretions. Something inside of things is being disguised, hidden at whatever price, and even this extract of stone, earth, and dry lava where we walked, built our cabins and birthed our children seems to be there to wrap something that tends toward the center. The endless aggregation of Gravity, of mass falling upon mass, matter embracing matter … Read More »
translated by Qiaomei Tang
It is true.
There was a village. There was a girl from a well-to-do family. She was a beauty. Matchmakers came, but none succeeded. She was no more than fifteen or sixteen, when on a spring evening she stood at the back door, resting her arm on a peach tree. She remembers the moon-white dress she wore. The young man living opposite her house had seen her before, but had never greeted her. He approached, stood still before her, and said softly: “Oh, you are here, also?” She said nothing, and he said nothing more. They stood for a while, then each walked away.
Like that, it was over.
Time passed. The girl was abducted by a relative, and would be a concubine in a strange land. Again and again, she was resold. Having endured … Read More »
Slakers shambled along the coasts, the brine in the breeze searing nostrils, lashing cheekbones and the edges of eyelids, whittling parts of faces to skin-wrapped bone. Aside from slits for vision their bodies went draped in canvas and denim, thick twill: fabrics too sturdy for perspiration to mix with the sting in the air. They pushed carts of rags and tarps and funnels and metal drums of dun-colored water, sloshing lukewarm but still able to quench and sometimes, also, to cleanse. Their ministry was as secular as the suffering it attended: pouring slim, dusky streams into withered gullets gone feathery and tight in the dusty, gagging air.
They were journeymen, they were shamans, they were witches: that’s what was said. New Bedouins of the Atlantic Coast. The Slakers were driven from dry places like a curse. … Read More »