The Books of My Numberless Dreams

True love

Posted on: December 6, 2007

After two days spent in an utter daze, Luz realized that she was in love. She felt like a girl. She got hold of Claudia’s telephone number in Rosario and called her. She was almost sober; she could barely control her emotion. She asked if they could meet. Claudia agreed: they could meet in Rosario in three days’ time. Luz was beside herself; she wanted to see Claudia that night or the next day at the latest. Claudia stood firm: she had binding, prior engagements. What cannot be cannot be, besides which, it’s impossible. Luz accepted her conditions with joyful resignation. That night she cried and danced and drank until she passed out. No doubt it was the first time that anyone had made her feel that way. True love, she confessed to Pedrito, who agreed with everything she said.

The meeting in Rosario was not as marvelous as Luz had hoped. Claudia clearly and frankly set out the reasons why a closer relationship between them was impossible: she was not a lesbian; there was a significant age difference (Luz being more than twenty-five years older); and, finally, there political convictions were deeply dissimilar if not diametrically opposed. “We are mortal enemies,”said Claudia sadly. This declaration seem to interest Luz. (Sexual preferences was a triviality, she felt, in a case of real love. And age was an illusion. But she was intrigued by the idea of being mortal enemies.) Why? Because I’m a Trotskyist and you’re a fascist shit, said Claudia. Luz ignored the insult and laughed. And there’s no way round that? she asked, desperately lovesick. No, there’s not, said Claudia. What about poetry? asked Luz. Poetry is pretty irrelevant these days, with what’s going on in Argentina. Maybe you’re right, Luz admitted, on the verge of tears, but maybe you’re wrong. It was a sad farewell. Luz had a sky blue Alfa Romeo sports car. Easing her rotund physique into the driver’s set was no simple task, but she undertook it bravely, with a smile on her face. Claudia looked from the doorway of the café where they had met, unmoving. Luz pulled away, with the image of Claudia fixed in the rear-vision mirror.

In her position anyone else would have given up, but Luz was not anyone. A torrent of creative activity swept her away. In the past, falling in or our of love had dried up the flow of her writing for long periods. Now she wrote like a madwoman, driven perhaps by a presentiment of what destiny had in store. Every night she called Claudia: they talked, argued, read poems to each other (Claudia’s were downright bad but Luz was very careful not to say so). Every night, without fail, she begged: when could they meet again? She made wild plans: they could leave Argentina together, go to Brazil, or Paris. At these suggestions the young poet burst out laughing, but there was nothing cruel in her laughter; if anything, it was tinged with sadness.

From an excerpt of Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews, published in The Virginia Quarterly Review Fall 2007.


4 Responses to "True love"

Isn’t Bolano fab! I’ve only just discovered him. I ordered The Savage Detectives, which arrived yesterday and was far huge-er than I expected, and so I ended up ordering some short stories as well, as I can’t tackle a book that size over Christmas, but am keen to start reading him properly.

I read my first Bolano earlier this year – A Distant Star, which was a disturbing and beautiful book. He writes so vividly. I wish I could read him in Spanish, I suspect it would be even better.

I have the VQR issue on my nightstand but didn’t get to this story yet… I look forward to it now!

litlove I am coming around that idea of his grandness, and I’m glad his work was in VQR to give me a small sample. I have his Savage Detectives too, but all of the constant coverage of his literature in the last half of the year made me fatigued.

Verbivore I think I remember you blogging about that. I figured I should start with his New Directions books before getting to S D.

Smithereens yes, it does take a while to get through, doesn’t it? I’ve been carrying it around with me for at least a month now, pulling it out whenever I feel the urge and reading an essay or two.

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