May CommQuote

This month’s quote is a media-saturated passage from Roberto Bolano’s The Savage Detectives. The liminal quality of the saturation is what’s interesting. The speaker recalls a phone conversation she had with one of the novels’ mysterious poet-protagonists, Arturo Belano. While on the phone with him she watches a movie on TV (the sound is off). She also refers to a novel lying on the table that she plans to turn to once she gets tired of the movie (when, not if). The passage ends with car sounds that she believes are coming from the phone but she’s not sure if he’s hung up or not; the sounds could be coming from her window.

 

Susana Puig, Calle Josep Tarradellas, Calella de Mar, Catalonia, June 1994. He called me. It had been a long time since I talked to him. He said you have to go to such and such a beach, on such and such a day, at such and such a time. What are you talking about? I said. You have to be there, you have to, he said. Are you crazy? Are you drunk? I said. Please, I’ll expect you there, he said, and he repeated the name of the beach and the date and the time. Can’t you come to my apartment? I said. We can talk here if that’s what you want. I don’t want to talk, he said, I don’t want to talk anymore, everything’s over, it’s pointless to talk, he said. I felt like hanging up, but I didn’t. I’d just had dinner and I was watching a movie on TV, it was a French movie, I can’t remember what it was called or who the director or the actors were, all I remember is that it was a singer, a sort of hysterical girl, I think, and a pathetic guy she inexplicably falls in love with. I had the volume turned down low, as usual, and while I was talking to him I didn’t take my eyes off the TV: rooms, windows, the faces of people whose presence in the movie didn’t quite make sense. The table was cleared and there was a book on the sofa, a novel I was planning to start that night when I got tired of the movie and went to bed. Will you come? He said. What for? I said, but I was really thinking about something else, about the singer’s stubbornness, about her tears, tears that flowed uncontainably, tears of hatred, although I don’t know whether that makes sense. It’s hard to cry with hatred, hard to hate someone so much it makes you sob. So you can see me, he said. For the last time, the last time, he insisted. Are you still there? I said. For a moment I thought he’d hung up. It wouldn’t be the first time. I was sure he was calling me form a public phone, I could imagine it perfectly, a telephone on the Paseo Maritimo of the town where he lived, what was just twenty minutes from my town by train and fifteen by car, why I started to think about distances that night I don’t know, but he couldn’t have hung up, I could hear the sound of cars, unless I hadn’t closed all the window and what I was hearing was noise from my own street.
–Roberto Bolano, The Savage Detectives

 

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