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Southerly

Southerly

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Southerly

Longitud:
106 página
1 hora
Editorial:
Publicado:
Jul 30, 2019
ISBN:
9781999722777
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Consiglio has won awards in Argentina and Spain for his novels and poetry. Charco will be publishing his newest novel in 2021.
Editorial:
Publicado:
Jul 30, 2019
ISBN:
9781999722777
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Jorge Consiglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1962. He has published five novels: El bien (The Good, 2003; Award for Emerging Writers, Opera Prima, Spain), Gramática de la sombra (Grammar of the Shadows, 2007; Third Municipal Prize for Novels), Pequeñas intenciones (Small Intentions, 2011; Second National Prize for Novels, First Municipal Prize for Novels, re-published in 2019), Hospital Posadas (2015) and Tres Monedas (2018). They have all been awarded prizes in Argentina and in Spain. He has also published three collections of short stories, including Villa del Parque (2016), published by Charco Press as Southerly (2018), five books of poems and a book of essays. He is currently writing his sixth novel, to be published in 2020, an excerpt of which was published by GRANTA. Fate is his second book published in English.


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Dentro del libro

Cotizaciones principales

  • Nothing is concealed from the client, not even their own stupidity.

Vista previa del libro

Southerly - Jorge Consiglio

Jorge Consiglio

Southerly

Translated by Cherilyn Elston

Contents

Southerly

Correspondence

Travel, Travel

Jessica Galver

The Running Man

The Night Before

The Terrace

Acknowledgements

Copyright

Southerly

In June 1912 a merchant ship was delayed entering Buenos Aires. During the hours they were kept waiting, the passengers – all on deck – gazed ashore in search of clues about what the future held. They saw cranes, silos, a group of freezing people (the temperature was -2°C) and the serrated outline of a tower. Everything else was shrouded in fog. The chaotic disembarkation represented the conclusion of one chapter of their lives. Yet the minds of the new arrivals were already fixed on the next one. They believed that life was just beginning, that they were starting anew. A young man – tall, stocky and redheaded – broke away from the crowd and strode across the port as if he knew where he was going, heading towards the streets of the city centre. His name was Czcibor Zakowicz. He carried a cardboard suitcase and was wearing a duffel coat. In his pocket was a piece of paper with a name and an address on it. A distant relative, the cousin of a cousin, was expecting him and would put him up and feed him. Zakowicz would do the rest. He found work at a cabinetmaker’s and, in a short time, discovered his relationship with wood was not that of a craftsman. He was organised and successful. He set up a workshop in the Flores quarter and found a talent for inventing fanciful myths. He combined work with tradition and sacrifice.

After he turned forty-five, his eyebrow hair began to grow. It became a wild, unkempt thicket that covered the ridge of his brow, curving downwards into his eye sockets until it brushed his eyelids. In the first few years, Czcibor Zakowicz tried to domesticate his brows. He trimmed them every week, more out of embarrassment than vanity. However, it is common knowledge that laziness tends to get the better of even the most determined. Eventually, Zakowicz became resigned to his appearance, and something changed in the look in his eyes.

The same thing happened to one of his grandchildren, when he turned fifty. He inherited his grandfather’s overflowing eyebrows, and suffered similar embarrassment until he in turn conceded defeat. He also inherited his grandfather’s sense of urgency, which had made him ambitious in his career. He was an estate agent. In keeping with family tradition – a romantic absurdity – they called him Anatol, and that is how his name was recorded on his birth certificate. He, a skilful operator, took advantage of the exoticism of his name – not his surname but his first name – and turned it into a brand. It was the perfect combination of something both straightforward and unusual, two decisive factors when it comes to selling properties in fashionable neighbourhoods. Anatol, married to a very light-skinned woman, understands like no other the secret of his era, its fickle essence. His company’s logo, for example, is adapted from a nineteenth-century Danish ex libris with text in the Garamond typeface. The efficacy of maximising artifice, an aesthetics of defiance, of bravado. All coming together as one great, effective masquerade. Nothing is concealed from the client, not even their own stupidity.

Anatol’s last great move was to relocate his office to the Bencich building on Diagonal Sur. The spot he reserved for his desk is on the ninth floor. It is a spacious room, with an enormous painting as its only adornment. There is something paradoxical about the canvas: at first glance, the observer is moved by the stillness of the image, yet at the same time by its furious dynamism. The meaning of each stroke is drawn from a point located in infinity. It depicts the face of a man who is neither young nor old, with a beard and a blank expression. This work of art is another of Anatol’s expensive whims. It is a copy of a daguerreotype left to him by his grandfather Czcibor. It was painted by a certain Zorroaquín, one of the highest-paid contemporary artists.

It has to be said that the new office changed Anatol’s behaviour. It impaired something that has always concerned him and that he happens to call productivity. The view from his office is irresistible. He spends all his time gazing at the domes of the surrounding buildings: the neo-colonial dome of the Boston Bank, the geometric one of La Equitativa de Plata, the neoclassical dome of the other Bencich building; to the south, the tower of the City Legislature building and, to the west, the side of the Barolo Palace and the National Congress. He is also fascinated by the vast stretch of river that can be glimpsed behind the Plaza de Mayo. There is yet another distraction for Anatol in this building. His name is von Hefty. He is a lawyer and has his office on the eighth floor. His father, a Hungarian, was a despotic Protestant pastor. The second time they took the lift together, Anatol and von Hefty only exchanged a brief glance, but they were sure they were going to get along. The third time they spoke about a shared passion: chess. They study the moves made by the world’s best players in historic matches. They compare and discuss them. Currently they’re studying a move from 1866 when the Austrian Steinitz defeated Andersson. Anatol has it on his iPad and he can’t stop analysing it. At times he decodes, or thinks he has decoded, the logic behind Steinitz’s move, his system, and he feels that he is Steinitz, as if a more intelligent man inhabited his mind and the flow of ideas of each – host and visitor – ran parallel up to a certain point where they fused and became one. When this happens he is overwhelmed by terror and a strange euphoria. He stands up, walks to the window and takes several breaths. He then calls his wife and tells her what has just happened. Sometimes, he drinks green tea to calm himself down. Right now, he’s in that state of agitated excitement but, as the move he has just understood ends in checkmate, he doesn’t do what he normally does; instead he goes downstairs to share his discovery with von Hefty. It’s just one floor and Anatol wants to cover the distance in an instant. He flies down the stairs with the iPad in his hand. All of a sudden, the very same euphoria that is propelling him forwards clouds his vision, without warning or preamble. He can’t see a thing. He tries to feel his way down the steps and falls headlong, coming to a standstill against a door. Wounded in body and spirit, he has only one thought before losing consciousness. He’s sure it’s the end.

He wakes up in a clinic in San Martín de Tours Street. The first thing he sees is his wife, Iris, tall and elegant, talking to a priest. The clergyman’s body language conveys the complexity of the issue they are discussing. Anatol’s lips are dry, he’s dying of thirst; but he waits a while before asking for water. The liquid runs down his oesophagus and Anatol realises his pain threshold is light years away from where he thought it was. Then, as if he were a child, he covers his face with his hands and cries. The last time he did this he was twelve years old.

His recovery is so slow that weeks go by before any improvement is noted. According to the doctors this is progress. They explain to Anatol that he had nearly died. This fact comes in handy to keep him quiet: they can’t stand his moaning. They express their exasperation behind his back. Iris indifferently monitors her husband’s convalescence during her afternoon visits. The rest of the day the patient remains alone. Anatol chats to the nurses – one of them talks about trivial things: how he prepares his morning mate – and he observes how the room changes with the passing hours. At night clonazepam puts him to sleep, but he has a recurring dream he can’t get out of his mind. It is an image: a man dressed in the style of the 1950s, who is at once himself and another, is stroking an enormous cat in a public place. The third time he has this dream he realises they are in a café on Brazil Street. The clarity of the image surprises him. It all ends the morning he is discharged. The insistent dream vanishes, together with the blessing of easy sleep. Anatol makes an effort to get back to normal but when he imagines his daily life he feels moved

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