Tuesday, December 02, 2008


I don't care much for end of year lists. The Guardian's bent remains an exception. The premise is todetermine a heady roster of notables and then ask them what books influenced them most over the course of the year. While there remains a common cluster of fascination over new releases, there is, more importantly, a peek into which books, however obscure, are regarded as meaningful by intellectual elites. For instance, I learned this week that Monica Ali loves the HBO series The Wire, and has endorsed the novels of Richard Price along similar lines. I was also pleased to discover that Simon Schama was moved by the tales of Alvaro Mutis.

My reading has been slowed these past two days, I haven't felt well and work looms hectic and i had leaves to rake this afternoon. Still, I found the below profoundly affecting:

A Salvadorean immigrant found the body behind the Francisco I School, on Madero, near Colonia Alamos. It was fully dressed, and the clothes, except for the shirt, were intact. The Salvadorean was accused of the homicide and spent two weeks in the cells of Police Precinct #3, at the end of which he was released. When he got out he was a broken man. A little later he crossed the border with a pollero. In Arizona he got lost in the desert and after walking for three days, he made it to Patagonia, badly dehydrated, where a rancher beat him up for vomiting on his land. He was picked up by the sheriff and spent a day in jail and then he was sent to a hospital, where the only thing left for him to do was die in peace, which he did.


Blogger Levi Stahl said...

The unexpected wryness of that passage, married to its inherent brutality and fatalism, brings to mind Felix Feneon's Novels in Three Lines, a read that is decidedly more light-hearted despite its origins in reportage.

11:29 PM  

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