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05.13.08, Tuesday evening

Dear Gabriel Garcia Marquez,

Re: your memoir Living to Tell the Tale

Why must you jump across decades without any warning, from one image to another, one memory to another? I can only read you in short bursts, otherwise I will lose my focus on practical matters.

For you remind me that the day vibrates, as if every animal, machine, river, building, etc would speak every word that would describe itself. Every day is a page of the novel that I would write in my head. Sentences say Excuse me as they hurry to work, give me change at the supermarket, or sit at the bar and reveal how goats are slaughtered in Nepal. That concise and elegant paragraph is a yellow-eyed grey heron crossing the narrow road. An episode takes a photograph of a black terrier lying on the cobblestones; the dog gets up, with admirable disdain, and limps into a small, apple-scented title of a cafe. And what shall I call the ducks I saw the other night, waddling toward the lit window of a jewelry shop?

Unless I follow these things to their destinations, I won't know the full shapes of these things, these openings. But which ones shall I follow? There are so many of them! Should I take your example, that is, to explore every opening, even if it brought you to misfortune, even if it made you face the muzzle of an ancient revolver or drove you to such anguish that you wept until dawn? In Nepal, after the goat's chest is slit open and its beating heart pulled out, it is entirely consumed, hooves and all. Nothing is wasted. Everything nourishes, in its own way.

So, with your infuriatingly self-congratulatory yet generous book, you have revealed that the world conspires to overwhelm me with boredom, disgust and delight. I can only hope to approximate the felicities of this conspiracy in my own writing.

Thankfully yours,
an orangepeeler


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