Thursday, January 25, 2018

He drank his own books

In secondhand bookshops, he's sell the books he'd lovingly collected over the years in exchange for a pittance, and then he drank his own books, each day he drank one, some days as many as two, I'm drinking The Odyssey, the small change they gave me for it is disappearing down my throat, he'd tell himself, look how little I got for the paperback edition of Martin Amis's Money, he exchanged literature for alcohol, Robinson Crusoe became a bottle of Baileys, The Brothers Karamazov a bottle of Smirnoff vodka, the three gin and tonics he'd just ingested were The Life and Adventures of Lazarillo de Tormes. He got his hands on an expensive bottle of Laguvulin whisky in exchange for the leather-bound copy of James Joyce's Ulysses that Ana had given him as a gift; if, on a given day, he sold Montaigne's essays for next to nothing, he would buy himself a Bordeaux red, trying to be coherent with what he drank; if he got rid of Madame Bovary, he had to try to find a potion similar to something Flaubert might have ingested, to be able to emulate him; in exchange for Italo Calvino's Our Ancestors he'd get a Chainti or a bottle of pelaverga from Saluzzo, maybe. Whoever said that literature doesn't feed us, that it doesn't comfort our spirit or our soul?
— from Twist, by Harkaitz Cano.

Translated from Basque by Amaia Gabantxo, Twist is published by Archipelago Books, available March 2018.

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