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Lowering Clouds

Lowering Clouds

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Lowering Clouds

Longitud:
190 páginas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Sep 15, 2021
ISBN:
9781071539446
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

Gabriele is an actress who, as her career approaches its end, takes a trip to the city where she spent her adolescence. Her sudden visit awakens something unexpected in two of her friends, who see in her an escape from their grey, monotonous days. Through her friends, the actress sees the life she could have had. The burden of fame has been pursuing her for forty years, and only one thing is evident: this trip awakens passions and changes the lives of everyone she visits.

"What Núria Añó gives us in this book is a piece of real life, dissected with the razor-sharp scalpel of her writing. This work contains great use of language and style. The novel is not easy, either its subject or its style, but it is very interesting and, in my opinion, is one of the great promises of contemporary Catalan writing."—Dr Àngels Santa in L'Ull crític, No. 15-16

Editorial:
Publicado:
Sep 15, 2021
ISBN:
9781071539446
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Núria Añó (1973) is a Catalan/Spanish novelist and biographer. Her first novel "Els nens de l’Elisa" was third among the finalists for the 24th Ramon Llull Prize and was published in 2006. “L’escriptora morta” [The Dead Writer], in 2008; “Núvols baixos” [Lowering Clouds], in 2009, and “La mirada del fill”, in 2012. Her most recent work “El salón de los artistas exiliados en California” [The Salon of Exiled Artists in California] (2020) is a biography of screenwriter Salka Viertel, a Jewish salonnière and well-known in Hollywood in the thirties as a specialist on Greta Garbo scripts.Some of her novels, short stories and articles are translated into Spanish, French, English, Italian, German, Polish, Chinese, Latvian, Portuguese, Dutch and Greek.Añó’s writing focus on the characters’ psychology, most of them antiheroes. The characters in her books are the most important due to an introspection, a reflection, not sentimental, but feminine. Her novels cover a multitude of topics, treat actual and socially relevant problems such as injustices or poor communication between people. Frequently, the core of her stories remains unexplained. Añó asks the reader to discover the deeper meaning and to become involved in the events presented.Literary Prizes/ Awards:2020. Awarded at International Writing Program in China.2019. Awarded at International Writers’ and Translators’ House in Latvia.2018. Fourth prize of the 5th Shanghai Get-together Writing Contest.2018. Selected for a literary residence in Krakow UNESCO City of Literature, Poland.2017. Awarded at the International Writers’ and Translators’ Center of Rhodes in Greece.2017. Awarded at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Sweden.2016. Awarded at the Shanghai Writing Program, hosted by the Shanghai Writer’s Association.2016. Awarded by the Culture Association Nuoren Voiman Liitto to be a resident at Villa Sarkia in Finland.2004. Third among the finalists for the 24th Ramon Llull Prize for Catalan Literature.1997. Finalist for the 8th Mercè Rodoreda Prize for Short Stories.1996. Awarded the 18th Joan Fuster Prize for Fiction.


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Lowering Clouds - Núria Añó

Lowering Clouds

Núria Añó

Translated by Eliza Graham

Lowering Clouds

Written By Núria Añó

Copyright © 2020 Núria Añó

Original title Núvols baixos © 2009

www.nuriaanyo.com

All rights reserved

Distributed by Babelcube, Inc.

www.babelcube.com

Translated by Eliza Graham

Cover Design © 2020 Núria Añó. Photo by Birgit Eilenberger. Drawing by Gordon Johnson

Babelcube Books and Babelcube are trademarks of Babelcube Inc.

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Lowering Clouds

About the author

Also by Núria Añó

The Salon of Exiled Artists in California

The Dead Writer

About the translator

Lowering Clouds

Núria Añó

Marianne was seated in the armchair when the doorbell rang. Her feet were slower than usual, as if it were a great effort to wear footwear and today she no longer remembers that they put shoes on her, which look polished; or that three-inch heel, how many steps has she taken in those shoes, and look, now she can’t even remember how she got here, also the pointy toe is really mashing her toes together. And the way she looks at the time, she looks at the wall clock for a good while and gets the impression that the woman they just told to come in has arrived late. She wouldn’t say it, but forty years without seeing her… Was their communication really that bad? And what on earth is happening now, with the visitor wasting time greeting members of the family, as if she didn’t remember her, Marianne thinks while she curves her back and pulls down the hem of her skirt. The actress simultaneously reaches a hand towards the door, and anyone can see that she is about to go in, but they hold her up on the other side of the window. How many words could be spared between them, how was the trip, you look so good, and the palm of her hand sliding down the window towards the knob; she will soon have to decide whether or not to enter. The daughter has already blundered, which Marianne didn’t want, what do I know, here is a seated woman who had never expected to hear the name of that disease, but now what’s done is done. Not even by embracing it can she fight that word, but how would she say it, the arm of the actress is again very close to the glass, although they make her turn around with their silliness, that of course she deserved the statuette for I don’t know what movie. C’est la vie , she says, her hand approaching the knob. And if I had the chance to be with the most desired men, why hide it, says the daughter of this old woman, as if seeing them still sends a shiver down my spine. Is that true? Not anymore, the actress says. Then she opens the door and finds the other woman standing. It’s about time, Marianne exclaims, taking a step forward. It was more than time, Gabriele finishes with a hug.

And why don’t you stay here? Marianne’s daughter says, I could get a room ready for you right now. Gabriele sits down in a nook when she hears this, the daughter’s slim hand just like Marianne’s, as if the words are too much, but in their place her eyes are very attentive, she sees something shiny on each side, although the actress breaks the moment and inclines her neck slightly to say that she already has a room in a hotel. In a hotel, and why, the daughter exclaims, when you could stay here as many days as you like! Gabriele looks again at the hand that is just like Marianne’s, lifts it towards her face and kisses it. I’m only going to stay three days, the actress says, turning around again as if she will always have things to do; projects, after all. Yes, Marianne has an idea of what that means. The projects all ran together for her, like the steam of a pressure cooker, something seen and unseen. And the daughter speaks into thin air: I’ll get a room ready for you. And the grandson: shit, give her yours. And the daughter: you want to be quiet? Can’t you see she can hear us? The actress crosses her legs to the side to affirm that she has already paid for the hotel. Arthur died, Marianne says suddenly. I know, Gabriele says, but that was years ago. Yes, the other woman says in a low voice. She looks towards the window and sighs. If you see the light on in the garage, go back in a little while, tell Arthur to come in, he spends his life in there and we hardly see him. Gabriele then rises from the sofa and adds: but you don’t live in that house now. I don’t? the other woman asks.

Sunday afternoon Gabriele says, as she goes down the stairs and looks up. Then she hesitates for a moment on the last step, thinking about whether or not to go back to the hotel. Nevertheless she decides to take the next step in the opposite direction. Her expression is a bit grim, as if she were expecting better weather. Probably because this city holds intense memories, as if the passing of the years could erase so many gray days from the calendar, and now she has to raise the lapels of her overcoat and breathe through her nose while she looks at this city that is so different from her adolescent memories. I don’t know… where she was expecting houses there are probably very tall buildings, and where she expected there to be open space, everything is stacked on top of each other, as if there weren’t already enough blandness here. Of course she is not an architect, nor did she want to be; she became an actress instead of an architect, but now you’re going to see where she’s headed. Or maybe she is surprised walking around or waiting at some streetlight, as if this city isn’t the one she grew up in, and there are just so many new streets where that city once was. She lifts a hand and signals a taxi, what a mess, she hadn’t planned on getting lost here.

Gabriele! Sílvia says as soon as she opens the door; she often speaks in code and now just emphasizes it in the middle of the hug: you should have let me know earlier. The actress enters and hangs her overcoat on the coat rack, then heads towards the living room and rubs her hands together saying: if I had planned it I wouldn’t have come. Silvia invites her to sit down so she does, and they are very close to each other at this table where they both cross their arms, one with her face a little downcast. What’s going on? Gabriele asks, lifting her chin. Nothing, the other one says. She gets up and takes two glasses out of the cupboard and slowly pours them each a liqueur. That’s not what it looks like, the actress says, lowering her gaze. And Silvia cries, I don’t know, she decides to cry at a bad moment, although she finds a handkerchief in her apron, then she exclaims: I thought you had forgotten about me! Oh! And why wouldn’t you forget? You have a great life, and you’ve gotten everything you wanted, married and divorced twice, and with such men! They run circles around mine, but everything here is exactly the same, like a clock that has stopped, you did well getting out of here, I told you once and I’ll repeat it again: here, there is nothing but misery. That’s not how I remember it, the actress says after a sip. Silvia sketches a slight smile, then drinks. Better? Gabriele asks. Better, Silvia says. Are you okay, comfortable, do you want something to eat? As the actress sits down and shakes her head no, what is strange is that as she does this Silvia captures the non-verbal communication, but I was lost with the first movement of her head. But where was I going, ah yes, Silvia’s husband appears, and look who’s here at the table! He’s never believed in miracles, but now, now he would fall right over if he weren’t already hugging Gabriele. He is a little nervous, he didn’t expect to find this woman from the silver screen right here, this woman who his wife said had once lived here, three or four streets away from where he had lived! And the way things are, well, he didn’t remember her from when she was young, but she has immortalized herself in I don’t know what movie, he’ll know, but on more than one occasion she served as the image for him to jerk off to while his wife was sleeping. Or maybe his wife wasn’t sleeping? Anyway, a man who was closely connected to Gabriele, one could say. Intimately, although today he looks at her from a hand’s breadth away and he could weep at the cruelty of the passage of time. Not even with a knife and cruel spite could such an effect be achieved. Silvia, the husband says, stay where you are and I’ll take care of dinner. And what can be guessed from her surprised look, as if she can’t believe what she just heard, and she has to see with her own eyes how he takes things out of cupboards, and how, looking to the other side, the actress takes her overcoat from the hook and asks: so, tomorrow? Silvia also thinks for a few seconds, and says: call me mid-morning.

Why didn’t Gabriele stay for dinner? The husband asks Silvia. Does she seem to you like someone who could be served four half-raw vegetables and a burned cutlet? She scoffs. Plus one can’t just appear out of nowhere on a Sunday as if it’s nothing and expect to be invited to dinner. You see what we had for today, Silvia starts in again, she’ll be used to eating, I don’t know, caviar, and we’re an old married couple that has to get by on one salary, if you had just let me work when I could have, then we’d have two pensions now, and we could have invited Gabriele out to eat at some restaurant, I’ve already thought about it, but if we’d done that it would make the rest of this month difficult. Let’s see how much is left, she’ll stay a bit although for her sake I hope it won’t be long, I wouldn’t want it to look like her friend is squandering every day that passes! But no doubt she has an idea when she sees me trundling the grandchildren all over the place! I don’t know why she’s come, the first thing she’d say to me if she were to pull back the curtain and see an old woman waving from the closest telephone booth, at the exact moment I raised my hand in greeting I would say: Earth! Swallow me up! And then she goes and says that she came to visit Marianne, when it was really me that was her friend, she was older than us, Marianne was already engaged while we were still in school. But if she loves Marianne, she concludes while she brings a glass of water to her lips, well, her corpse is here.

Gabriele is in her hotel room, telephone in hand. Whoever it is doesn’t answer. Well then, she will just have to continue with what she was doing, a dinner she decides to have here, in the intimacy of two overhead lights and the incessant colors that flicker on the television. No matter how many times she blinks her eyes, she is in the middle of a city where she has not set foot for a very long time. An eternity. Answer, answer, she whispers into the mouthpiece again. And finally that voice appears, which she tries to keep on the line without speaking a word. I’ll give you the telephone number of the hotel, the actress says to her agent, with a card in her hands. I’ll leave the fax number in reception if you can’t reach me. When are you going to buy a cell phone? The young man cuts her off. Would you take me more seriously if I had one? Gabriele rebukes him. And how it makes me feel when you get annoyed. The actress brings the device up to her ear, as if there is something important to be said, while at the same time she looks up, and she might wish to hear so many things, but now she just listens, yes and no, it depends. A modern woman, Gabriele, who turns her gaze towards the bed and makes a moue of disgust, as if she had a lot of contained rage, but instead, she stretches out the cord while she laughs coquettishly, and the look is gone from her face completely. Then she lowers a foot from the bed, grabs her agenda from her purse and looks at the mountain of white pages that is her future. White, like the blouse that someone puts on over Marianne's head. Or like the cotton with which Silvia removes two layers of nail polish with acetone, to stall for time. Time that passes for Marianne as she is laid out in a bed that isn’t hers, to which she is attached with a tether so that she can’t escape, fall, or even move. A woman who, in a lucid moment, remembers the flurry she is causing, and cries. As Gabriele does now.

You can already hear the early-morning shift of the grandchildren, the grandson, the youngest, who doesn’t have to do anything but arrive and already he is squealing with happiness. His nine-year-old sister is with him, she’s old enough to take care of him; the school isn’t so far away. Silvia lets them in. They eat breakfast at the house of these very kind grandparents who always have something interesting to tell them. Silvia’s daughter also comes in and mentions that she got an appointment with the doctor for the little boy, he has a cough and is stuffed up, tell them to be sure and examine him thoroughly, well! I’m going to be late. Silvia and her husband know this well! all too well. One leaves. The rest stay at the table where they finish another bottle of milk. I’m going, the other two say getting up from their chairs. What does it matter, the grandchildren fill their hearts with youth, like spring after a long hibernation, when the arms extend out like those of a scarecrow to embrace them. Like Silvia’s husband would stretch his arms around Gabriele’s waist if she would let him embrace her. A man who already had a chance yesterday and today he could collect the little pieces with the broom and the dust pan. No, he isn’t Gabriele’s type. Nor could his hands that do hard work every day contend with the satiny hands of the woman who yesterday had a hand on his shoulder, yes, while she gave him a kiss on each cheek. No one would believe him if he told everyone at work today. Anyway, he would have to say things like: yes, man, Gabriele Bates! The one who was in this and that film, come on, how can I not remember the name, tell me the name of one, no, an older one, to see if between us we can remember. And that’s how it would be if someone came up with it, mouth ajar, as if that title sounded to them like an old movie. Say another one. Come on now, let’s go, the work won’t wait. Not even arriving home exhausted does he rest. There is always another shift after his. The fact is that one day as Silvia’s husband is lifting kilos and kilos of weight with the machine, he suddenly realizes that he prefers this to being at home.

Gabriele arrives at the park that Silvia had indicated, and when she sees her, lifts her arm in the distance, even though she is alone here, with a grandson who gets out of the baby stroller. The actress approaches the boy and says something to him with a smile, but from all appearances it seems like the little one is just waiting for them to let him loose and he marches towards a swing set. Gabriele settles onto a bench. She is wearing a blouse of an intense blue with a type of decorated cuff at the wrists, under a light-colored coat. Neither her baggy pants nor her shoes with their little heel can match anything the other woman is wearing, Silvia thinks while she presses her fingers against her purse. This is the youngest, she adds like a good grandmother, but my daughter has two more, one who is nine who is very studious, and the oldest who is seventeen and shameless, they had the three children with several years in between, as if they didn’t dare do it all at once, and as you can see I have to take care of this one all day as a precaution, because in fact I already took him to day care but when they saw he was coughing they told me to take him, as if I didn’t have anything else to do, but anyway I’m happy you’re here. So am I, Gabriele answers, it is truly wonderful that you have grandchildren, I couldn't have children, there was always some project or another, and later, when everything was less hectic I couldn’t have them anymore; it was too late.

After a little while the

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