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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tempus fugit

Hey kids, another week has gone by somehow... not sure where it went. Among other things, I finished reading Delirium, a novel by the Colombian writer Laura Restrepo. A new writer to me, though she's well known in South America and Europe, and astrange dreamy book but a very engaging one. A guy comes home froma business trip to find his wife checked into a hotel, having lost her marbles. He's left trying to figure out what happened. She alternates between hostility and utter lack of response. There are multiple storylines ifrom the past and present, a number of narrators (you're left figuring out who is who), and run-on sentences galore. This book is great but it's a grammar teacher's worst nightmare. I know because I was one. (A grammar teacher, not a nightmare.) Take a look:

“Since she already knows The Decameron by heart, Agustina paid no attention to it, instead spending the whole movie mocking my cropped head, and since she was still going strong when we stepped out into the cold, she began to play at covering my head with her scarf, supposedly so that I wouldn’t catch cold, Let me take care of you, Aguilar, baldness is the Achilles’ heel of senior citizens, and as we walked form the center of the city along Seventh Road at midnight, in other words at precisely the happy hour for muggings and stabbings, she fixed me a turban a la Greta Garbo, Bugs Bunny ears with the two ends of the scarf, and a Palestinian head covering a la Yasir Arafat, while I, tense and vigilant, watched every shape that moved on the lonely street, a couple of figures crouched over a fire on the corner of Jimenez de Quesada, sleeping in cardboard shelters in the doorway of San Francisco, a boy stoned out of his mind who followed us for a while and fortunately passed us by, and I wanted to say to my wife, who kept improvising caps, wigs, and headdresses for me, Not here, Tina darling, wait until we get home, but I didn’t because I knew too well that for Agustina elation is just one step away from melancholy.”

Yes folks, that's one sentence with whole piles of information packed into its 216 words, 24 clauses and numerous errors of punctuation, if one heeds orthodoxy. So even though I think the style is perfect for this dreamy, off-kilter, delirious-seeming story, you may be the sort of person who runs away screaming from such excesses.

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