Academic journal article Chicago Review

From CENTURIA One Hundred Ouroboric Novels

Academic journal article Chicago Review

From CENTURIA One Hundred Ouroboric Novels

Article excerpt

Author's Preface

The small volume now before you holds within a brief space a vast and pleasant library; it in fact contains one hundred romans fleuves, but crafted in such anamorphic ways as to seem to the hasty reader to be texts of few, spare lines. It aspires, therefore, to be a prodigy of the contemporary science allied to rhetoric, recently brought to light by the local Universities. In short, a thin but endless volume; in the reading of which the readers will need to exercise the skills they already know, and perhaps to learn a few more: games with light that allow a reading between the lines, beneath the lines, between the two faces of a page, discovering the retreats of elegantly awkward chapters, of pages of noble ruthlessness, and sober exhibitionism, where they have mercifully been hidden away from children and the aged. On closer scrutiny, the considerate reader will here discover everything required for a lifetime of bookbound readings: minute descriptions of houses in Georgia where sisters destined to turn into rivals pass an adolescence at first oblivious, then turbid; sexual, passionate, carnal equivocations, minutely dialogued; memorable conversions of tormented souls; virile farewells, female constancy, inflations, plebeian tumult; gleaming appearances of heroes with a mild and terrible smile; persecutions, escapes, and behind a word I will not speak, the oblique outline of a round table on the Rights of Man.

If I am allowed to offer a suggestion, there is an optimum way to read this little book, but costly: acquire the right to the use of a skyscraper with the same number of floors as the number of the lines of the text to be read; at each floor, station a reader holding the book; assign each reader a line; on a signal, the Supreme Reader will begin to plunge from the building's summit, and as he transits progressively past the windows, each floor's reader will read the line assigned, in a loud, clear voice. It is understood that the number of the building's floors must exactly correspond to the number of the lines, and that there be no ambiguity on second floor and mezzanine, which might cause an embarrassing silence before the impact. It is also good to read it in the outer shadows, better if at absolute zero, in a capsule lost in space.

12

A youthful-looking gentleman with the air of a person of median cultivation, a movie-goer with a love for film series, is waiting at the intersection of two lightly traveled streets for a woman he judges to be fascinating, gifted, and of delicate beauty. It's their first rendezvous, and he savors the dampness of the air-it's late afternoon-and takes pleasure in the observation of the rare passers-by, the ornament of his solitary thoughts. The youthful-looking gentleman has reached the appointment early: nothing would mortify him more than the thought of making that woman wait. His feelings toward this woman, whom until now he has never seen except in the company of people whose lives he does not share, are mixed, widely skirting desire while vividly inclusive of veneration, respect, the hope of doing some service she'll appreciate. It's quite some time since he has felt so rich and happy a mixture of feelings for a woman. He discovers that he's lightly proud of himself, and registers a shiver of vanity. In that moment, seeing himself caught up in feelings he had renounced, and for which he has no esteem, he realizes what he's doing. He has gone to a rendezvous. Nothing proves it, but this could be the first of a long series of rendezvous. As his forehead moistens with a light sweat of anguish and hope, he considers that at the crossing of those two streets a "story" might begin, an inexhaustible deposit of memories. Something tells him, brusquely: "This is the start of your marriage." He twitches at the sound of a woman's rapid footstep. "It starts now?" Few minutes remain before something in the heavens, in the skies of the fixed stars, in the balance sheets of the angels, in the Volumus of the gods, in the mathematics of genetics will begin to hum. …

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