Nena Daconte was almost a child, with the eyes of a happy bird, and molasses skin still radiant with the bright Caribbean sun in the mournful January gloom, and she was wrapped up to her chin in a mink coat that could not have been bought with the year’s wages of the entire frontier garrison. Her husband, Billy Sánchez De Ávila, who drove the car, was a year younger and almost as beautiful, and he wore a plaid jacket and a baseball hat. Unlike his wife, he was tall and athletic and had the iron jaw of a timid thug. But what best revealed the status of them both was the silver automobile whose interior exhaled a breath of living animal; nothing like it had ever been seen along that impoverished border. The rear seat overflowed with suitcases that were too new and many gift boxes that were still unopened. It also held the tenor saxophone that had been the overriding passion of Nena Daconte’s life before she succumbed to the disquieting love of her tender beach hoodlum.
He began to pace every room, like a happy lunatic, waving his hands and reciting the film in great shouts. We listened to him, dazzled, and it seemed we could see the images, like flocks of phosphorescent birds that he set loose for their mad flight through the house.
Despite the perpetual rain, the sordid merchants, and the Homeric vulgarity of its carriage drivers, she would always remember Paris as the most beautiful city in the world, not because of what it was or was not in reality, but because it was linked to the memory of her happiest years.
To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.
It’s enough for me to be sure that you and I exist at this moment.
…from One Hundreds Years of Solitude, by that great man, oft quoted, now passed, who will shamefully be remembered by most people for awards and genre titles and abbreviated summaries and not because he was the man who wrote things like this:
He dug so deeply into her sentiments that in search of interest he found love, because by trying to make her love him he ended up falling in love with her. Petra Cotes, for her part, loved him more and more as she felt his love increasing, and that was how in the ripeness of autumn she began to believe once more in the youthful superstition that poverty was the servitude of love. Both looked back then on the wild revelry, the gaudy wealth, and the unbridled fornication as an annoyance and they lamented that it had cost them so much of their lives to find the paradise of shared solitude. Madly in love after so many years of sterile complicity, they enjoyed the miracle of loving each other as much at the table as in bed, and they grew to be so happy that even when they were two worn-out people they kept on blooming like little children and playing together like dogs.
…from Hundred Years. Or this:
‘He’s very sad,’ Úrsula answered, ‘because he thinks that you’re going to die.’
‘Tell him,’ the colonel said, smiling, ‘that a person doesn’t die when he should but when he can.’
Y can’t make up its mind if it’s a vowel or a consonant, can it?
…David Mitchell, my third favorite author, who may one day vie against my second, though who will need to write something seriously sexy before upjumping my first, but who has already hurdled my fourth, yet is perhaps the only person in the world who loves a word, not any word, mind you, but “a” word, as much as said fourth, in this LA Times interview, which isn’t nearly as “good” as, though is probably more honest than, this interview in that magazine for people who, you know, love to love words more than they actually love words themselves, but who likely don’t, unlike my third and fourth favorite authors, know the sound of your tongue rounding a corner.
The highlight from my recent guest lecture on 20th century literature at a fancy institute of book learnin’ here in South China:
Student #1: Hemingway talk about facing the struggle, like Confusing.
S#1: Yes, Confusing.
Me: Not as much as me.
S#1: Ummm…maybe you don’t know China history.