Cosas Que Leo #153: MEMENTO MORI, Muriel Spark

“Guy Leet was never a good theatre critic, and he was a worse novel critic. He knows nothing about poetry, he has no right to touch the subject. Can’t someone stop him?”

Memento Mori

MURIEL SPARK

Polygon, 2017 (publicado originalmente en 1959)

222 págs.

Cosas Que Leo #60: EL REVÉS DE LA TRAMA, Graham Greene

“El telegrama ocupó su pensamiento todo el día: la vida ordinaria —las dos horas en el juzgado por un caso de falso testimonio— poseía la irrealidad de un país que uno abandona para siempre. Uno piensa: «A esta hora, en aquel pueblo, aquellas personas que conocí en un tiempo están sentadas a la mesa como hacían el año pasado, cuando yo estaba allí», pero no se convence de que la vida sigue como siempre fuera de la conciencia. Toda la de Scobie estaba concentrada en el telegrama, en aquel barco sin nombre que ahora remontaba, procedente del sur, la costa africana. «Dios me perdone», pensó, cuando su mente concibió por un instante la posibilidad de que nunca llegara a su destino. En nuestra alma mora un dictador despiadado, dispuesto a tolerar la desgracia de mil extraños si con ello asegura la dicha de los pocos que amamos.

Al final del juicio por falso testimonio, Fellowes, el inspector de sanidad, le alcanzó en la puerta.

—Venga a cenar esta noche, Scobie. Tenemos un pedazo de auténtica carne argentina.

Era demasiado esfuerzo rechazar una invitación en aquel mundo de sueños.

—Viene Wilson —dijo Fellowes—. A decir verdad, nos va a ayudar a prepararla. A usted le cae bien, ¿no?

—Sí. Creí que era a usted a quien no le gustaba.

—Bueno, el club tiene que adaptarse a los nuevos tiempos, y hoy día toda clase de personas se dedican al comercio. Reconozco que me precipité. Estaría un poquito achispado, no me extrañaría. Wilson estudió en Downham: solíamos jugar contra ellos cuando yo estaba en Lancing.

En el trayecto a la casa familiar de la colina que una vez había ocupado él mismo, Scobie pensó apáticamente que tenía que hablar con Helen pronto. No debía enterarse por ninguna otra persona. La vida repetía siempre la misma pauta; tarde o temprano, había siempre una mala noticia que comunicar, mentiras piadosas que decir y ginebras con bíter que consumir contra la desventura.”

El revés de la trama

GRAHAM GREENE

Libros del Asteroide, 2020 (publicado originalmente como The heart of the matter en 1948)

350 págs.

Traducción de Jaime Zulaika

**** Soy Greenista de toda la vida (Harry Crews también era fan declarado). Era un autor super-prolífico, aún no he terminado de leer toda su obra (por fortuna). The Heart of the matter no es su mejor libro, pero un Greene suficiente es mil veces mejor que el mejor _ _ _ _ _ (pongan autor de mierda aquí). Mis favoritos, por si a alguien le interesa, son Brighton Rock (1938) y The end of the affair (1951).

Cosas Que Leo #54: STALIN ATE MY HOMEWORK, Alexei Sayle

“One unique contribution Liverpool had made to the counterculture was a character I never encountered anywhere else, and that was the Hard Hippy. The Hard Hippy was somebody who had the same qualities of self-pity and narcissism as the normal hippy but was also capable of kicking your head in. During that long summer I sometimes used to hang around a ramshackle art gallery in the centre of Liverpool where a Hard hippy used to hold court. He had long blond hair and his muscular torso was only ever covered by faded denim dungarees as worn by US hillbilly farmers, except that in his case he wore them with the legs cut off high on his bulging hairy thighs. Dotted around the gallery were various house plants that ranged from fairly well through sickly to dead. One day the hard Hippy was discoursing to a group of us about how he was planning to name the child he was having with his chick Fluoride when a mild-mannered guy in glasses who had been wandering around looking at the terrible art on the wall inadvertently interrupted the Hard Hippy’s monologue.

‘Er… does anybody mind if I take a cutting from one of these plants?’

The whole room fell into a nervous silence as the muscular blond stopped talking and, sensing the change, the mild-mannered guy began to shift nervously from foot to foot realizing that he had made a bad mistake.

After an uncomfortable thirty seconds during which we all fidgeted anxiously the Hard Hippy finally said in a calm but icy voice, ‘I dunno, man. Why don’t you ask the plant?’

‘What?’ said the visitor.

‘I said, “Why don’t you like get on your knees and ask the plant if you can take a cutting?” After all, it’s like you’re taking one of its babies or something, man.’

‘Erm… OK, yes’, said the mild-mannered man, and bending down to the ill-looking spider plant he said to it, ‘Erm… hi. Erm, do you mind if I take a cutting from one of your shoots?’

Nothing happened.

‘What did it say?’ asked the Hard Hippy.

‘It doesn’t seem to mind’.

‘Well, go ahead, then’.

With trembling hands the visitor took a tiny spring of the plant and quickly left.

‘Fucking straights, man,’ the Hard Hippy said.”

Stalin ate my homework

ALEXEI SAYLE

Sceptre, 2010

304 págs.

Cosas Que Leo #23: A SORT OF LIFE, Graham Greene

Sort of Life Greene

“As I lay in the ward after the operation (in those days they kept the patient at least a week) I began to plan my third novel, the forlorn hope. I called it The man within, and it began with a hunted man, who was to appear again and again in later less romantic books. But curiously enough there came to me also in the ward, with the death of a patient, the end of a book which I would not begin to write for another six years.

It was our second death. The first we had barely noticed: an old man dying from cancer in the mouth. He had been too old and ill to join in the high jinks of the ward, the courtship of nurses, the teasings, the ticklings and the pinches. When the screens when up around his bed the silence in the corner was no deeper than it had always been. But the second death disturbed the whole ward. The first was inevitable fate, the second was contingency.

The victim was a boy of ten. he had been brought into the ward one afternoon, having broken his leg at football. He was a cheerful child with a rosy face and his parents stayed and chatted with him for a while until he settled down to sleep. One of the nurses ten minutes later paused by his bed and leant over him. Suddenly there was a burst of activity, a doctor came hurrying in, screens went up around the bed, an oxygen machine was run squeaking across the floor, but the child had outdistanced them all to death. By the time the parents reached home, a message was waiting to summon them urgently back. They came and sat beside the bed, and to shut out the sound of the mother’s tears and cries all my companions in the ward lay with their ear-phones on, listening -there was nothing else for them to hear- to Children’s Hour. All my companions but not myself. There is a splinter of ice in the heart of a writer*. I watched and listened. This was something one day I might need. The woman speaking, uttering the banalities she must have remembered from some woman’s magazine, a genuine grief that could communicate only in clichés. ‘My boy, my boy, why did you not wait till I came?’. The father sat silent with his hat on his knees, and you could tell that even in his unhappiness he was embarrassed by the banality on his wife’s words, by the scene she was so badly playing to the public ward, and he wanted desperately to get away home and be alone. ‘Human language,’, Flaubert wrote, ‘is like a crackled kettle on which we beat our tunes for bears to dance to, when all the time we are longing to move the stars to pity’.”

A sort of life

GRAHAM GREENE

Vintage Classics 2002 (publicado originalmente en 1971 por The Bodley House).

179 págs.

*Una de mis frases favoritas sobre el oficio.