I converse from time to time with a bibliophile. It inspires me to recount a bookish tale.
On the skids from academia I kept either of two books near me as a talisman, carrying one even to bars. They didn’t relate directly to my teaching or my research domain or my committee servitude. They connected me to where I wanted to be, a place in my head, a fantasized detour around my impending dead end.
I didn’t find that detour. Oddly enough the two titles, with the names of their authors, faded from memory. Periodically I’ve sought to drag them out of the quicksands of recollection. Recently they returned to mind of their own accord.
The first book was “Tiempo de silencio” by Luis Martin-Santos, a Basque Spaniard killed in a car wreck in his forties as I recall. It intrigued me that he was a psychiatrist. What I remember of the work is short chapters without clear connection one to the next. It seemed daring and experimental.
The other book was “Los albañiles” by Mexican writer Vicente Leñero. I know nothing about Leñero. His narrative, set in Mexico City among construction workers (I’m relying on memory), read like a fever dream. I dwelt on the text and hovered over it. Its technique and language were challenging. I think it made me feel good to tackle it.
Those books are gone, sold or donated with the rest. I wonder what I would think of them now? I would be tempted to buy them again to read and see.
Read the rune.
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