Monday, April 06, 2020

All merged into one enormous rock

I have never asked a bookseller for a book recommendation. Disclosing desires and expectations to a stranger whose only connection to me is, in abstract, the book, seems too much like Catholic confession, if only a more intellectualized version of it. Dear bookseller, I would like to read a novel about the banal pursuit of carnal desire, which ultimately brings unhappiness to the ones who pursue it, and to everyone else around them. A novel about a couple trying to rid themselves of each other, and at the same time trying desperately to save the little tribe they have so carefully, lovingly, and painstakingly created. They are desperate and confused, dear bookseller; don't judge them. I need a novel about two people who simply stop understanding each other, because they have chosen to not understand each other anymore. There should be a man who knows how to untangle his woman's hair but who decides not to one morning, perhaps because now other women's hair has become interesting, perhaps because he has simply grown tired. There should be a woman who leaves, withdrawing either slowly or in a single sad and elegant coup de dés. A novel about a woman who leaves before she loses something, like the woman in Nathalie Léger's novel I'm reading, or like Sontag in her twenties. A woman who begins to fall in love with strangers, possibly only because they are strangers. There is a couple who loses the ability to laugh together. A man and a woman who sometimes hate each other, and will, if they are not stopped short by a better part of themselves, block out the last ray of innocence left in the other. A novel with a couple whose only engaging conversations are about revisiting past misunderstandings, layers and layers of them, all merged into one enormous rock. Dear bookseller, do you know the myth of Sisyphus? Do you have any version of it? An antidote? A piece of advice? A spare bed?
— from Lost Children Archives, by Valeria Luiselli.

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