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280 pages, Paperback
First published February 13, 1992
Recounting an event distorts it, recounting facts distorts and twists and almost negates them, everything that one recounts, however true, becomes unreal and approximate, the truth doesn't depend on things actually existing or happening, but on their remaining hidden or unknown or untold…
An instigation is nothing but words, translatable, ownerless words that are passed from voice to voice and from language to language and from century to century, always the same, provoking people again and again to the same act for as long as there have been people and languages and ears in the world to hear them.For days together, I oscillated between Juan and his many roles. Seamlessly switching between a faithful spouse and a steadfast friend, a tentative son and a diligent interpreter, Juan appeared serene on surface. But his ears were in rebellion. He simply could not give up listening. And in this hallucinatory air, his auditory brilliance spilled open many floodgates that bore ‘no entry’ boards on themselves.
Berta was fascinated by the unknown, nobody can resist participating in an experiment and returning with news, even when they don't know what the experiment's about.Marías’ experimental writing runs amok, picking filial relationship, poking domestic fabric, stress-testing old friendship and disrobing secrets and then, masterfully, synthesizing all into an incredible structure of many sharp edges – much like a diamond. A diamond, so sparkling on surface, coal black at its heart.
My hands are of your color; but I shameWilliam Shakespeare, Macbeth
To wear a heart so white.
I have a tendency to want to understand everything people say and everything I hear, both at work and outside, even at a distance, even if it’s one of the innumerable languages I don’t know, even if it’s in an indistinguishable murmur or imperceptible whisper, even if it would be better that I didn’t understand and what’s said is not intended for my ears or is said precisely so I won’t understand it.
Listening is the most dangerous thing of all..listening means knowing, finding out, knowing everything there is to know, ears don’t have lids that can close against the words uttered, they can’t hide from what they sense they’re about to hear, it’s always too late..it may well stain our hearts so white or are our hearts merely pale, or fearful or cowardly?
No he querido saber, pero he sabido que una de las niñas, cuando ya no era niña y no hacía mucho que había regresado de su viaje de bodas, entró en el cuarto de baño, se puso frente al espejo, se abrió la blusa, se quitó el sostén, y se buscó el corazón con la punta de la pistola de su propio padre, que estaba en el comedor con parte de la familia y tres invitados.
I did not want to know, but I have come to know, that one of the girls, when she was no longer a girl and not long after she had returned from her honeymoon, went into the bathroom, stood in front of the mirror, opened her blouse, took off her brassiere, and searched for her heart with the barrel of her father’s pistol, who was in the dining room with some of the family and three guests.