Shostakovich and Dvorak make The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis easier to read, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the novel’s rhythm, a drowsy pulse of commas, that begs a counterpoint. Also enjoying Music for 18 Musicians.
I tried it with Dr. Funkenstein, no luck.
Took my first steps yesterday. Strange to feel the ground again beneath my soles.
Absent from Hotel Theory?
Ricardo Reis had told the manager, I would like breakfast brought up to my room at nine-thirty. Not that he intended to sleep so late, but he wished to avoid having to jump out of bed half-awake, struggling to slip his arms into the sleeves of his dressing gown, groping for his slippers, and feeling panic that he wasn’t moving quickly enough to satisfy whoever was standing outside his door, arms laden with a huge tray bearing coffee and milk, toast, a sugar bowl, perhaps some cherry preserve or marmalade, a slice of dark grainy quince paste, a sponge cake, brioches with a fine crust, crunchy biscuits, or slices of French toast, those scrumptious luxuries served in hotels.
The English language lacks a tense for “was that – am this – will be.” We have the past tense, which is for revisiting old failures, and the future, for imagining a better self. But there’s nothing in our vocabulary for the condition of being in-between. For example, when I tell people “I ran seven miles every day,” or “I liked to drive on the freeway, by myself, with a Red Simpson record on the stereo,” or “I would go to the bagel shop for breakfast,” I don’t mean that I will never run, never drive, never get bagels again on an early Sunday morning. They see my wheelchair, my legs, and think that my past tense is a time beyond retrieval. It’s true that I can’t walk on my own right now, that I had an “accident,” and I …