Wednesday, September 02, 2009


René Colato Laínez

Hola, La Bloga readers, I highly recommend The Invisible Mountain. In this novel the author, Carolina De Robertis described the intense lives of three women: Pajarita, Eva and Salomé. Last week, Adriana Dominguez presented the first excerpt of the book on Voces.

In this second excerpt, we will learn about Eva. Next week, you can read the third excerpt on
Little Pink Book PR.

Author, Carolina De Robertis writes about Eva:

Montevideo, Uruguay, 1938: Eva is thirteen years old. After two years of working for a shoe salesman who abused her, she has rebelled against him and her parents, found a job in a fashionable café, and begun to spend her evenings with a group of aspiring poets.

The Invisible Mountain
Second Excerpt

Months and years would stretch and turn and she always pined for this: these nights; smoky, electric, succulent, ineffable; the feel of the red table under her hand (chipped and glossy, sticky underneath) as the poets dreamed and joked and boasted; the way the air stretched and shimmered after her second glass of wine; the conversations that coiled intricately through war to recent essays to the deepest meaning of life. A light shone through those nights that Eva could not define, that vanished if she sought it too directly, that gilded everything it touched—voices, faces, wineglass, table, words—with numinous honey. She grew to rely on it, trusting its power to ward off all that must be kept away—drabness, boredom, nightmares, the rage of home, the terror inside shoe stores and of Nazis in faraway lands. She was free inside its unseen sphere, and life became more possible. Surely the other poets felt it too: Joaquín, with his meticulous verses, knotted forehead, and arsenal of freshly sharpened pencils; Carlos, who smelled of shoe polish and stole moments at his father’s law firm to scrawl odes on legal files; the Well-Known Poet, with his amiable laugh and unkempt gray hair; Pepe, with his pointy chin and fast martinis; Andrés, with his lucid voice, sharp thoughts, sharp smile; and Beatriz, the kind of girl whose laugh poured like molasses, whose poems brimmed with maudlin nubile shepherdesses yearning for their errant gaucho men. Eva could have borne her poems if she did not also sit so close to Andrés.

“We’re changing the world, right, Andrés?” Beatriz said, twirling her hair on a slow finger.

“Poetry alone won’t change the world,” Andrés said. “But without it, where would we be? Stripped of mystery, passion, everything that urges us to stay awake despite the shit and pain of living. In a world full of war, we need it more than ever.”

Joaquín and Carlos murmured their agreement. The Well-Known Poet nodded behind his cigarette smoke. Andrés’ words mixed with the smoke, swirling around the table, imbibed on each poet’s breath. In a world full of war. Eva felt the smoke and bulk of the Admiral Graf Spee
within those words. It had been only a month since the German battle-ship had dragged its huge hard broken body into the port, seeking refuge, trailing fire and smoke and the toxic scent of battle. Uruguay was neutral. Uruguay was far from Europe. Uruguay had not been invaded the way Poland had last spring. But the Graf Spee came anyway, and so did the British ships that set it on fire. War’s fingers were very long and they stretched over the Atlantic and shook up her city the way a ghost’s cold fingers reach through a window and shudder you awake in your own bed. That’s how it was when Eva woke to Papá in the hall telling Tomás about the Graf Spee: the smoke was thick like—well, like—a big black blanket, all over the port, and up on the crane we were coughing like crazy, and I saw the Nazis standing on deck rigid like fucking toothpicks, like everything was fine, like they were breathing air from the fucking Alps. After the German captain gave up and sank his battleship to the bottom of the river, Eva dreamed of dead wet Nazis smashing her windows and crawling into her bed, cold and dripping, cutting her with shards of glass and ship and with their fingernails.

Andrés had written a sonnet called “Graf Spee’s Ghost” and it occurred to her that he might understand. She tapped his foot with hers. He smiled without looking at her.

“The things you say,” she told him later on their walk home. “The way you say them. Everybody listens.”

“It’s just talk.”

The heart of things, you touch it when you speak; somehow you shake and shift the flesh reality is made of. “It’s more than that.”

They walked home together every night, but never all the way to the door. They did not want to be discovered. Eva came to dread buying the family meat, because of the way Coco pinned her with doleful eyes.

“What happened to that son of mine? You, Eva, tell me! He barely even lives here anymore.”

We are told, Andrés wrote, that the world is made of burlap: / Coarse, enduring—when really it is gauze, / Layer upon layer, fine, fragile, infinite,/ We can see our fingers through it in the light.

Excerpted from THE INVISIBLE MOUNTAIN by Carolina de Robertis Copyright © 2009 by Carolina de Robertis. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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