Uit: High Key
“Laten we met een feestje beginnen in de binnentuin van een hotel waar overdadig zonlicht weerkaatst op witgekalkte muren. Klimrozen en hortensia’s staan in bloei. Uit de paardestallen schiet een zwaluw weg. Raakt zoveel naturalisme ons nog?
Na het overzoete dessert poseerde het pas gehuwde paar bij de volière met tropische vogels. De illegaal geïmporteerde kolibiries zongen voor de gelegenheid een Caraïbisch wijsje. In de opening van de dubbel beglaasde tuindeur verscheen een gezelschap dat met zijn getater de honingvogeltjes deed beven. Een uitgelaten dalmatiër stoof op de bruid af.
“Brucargo, my dear, come here!”
“Ik zweer het u!” De grootvader was aan zijn vijfde liter wijn begonnen. Een danseres wenste het echtpaar geluk.
“Chateauneuf.” De bruidegom haalde een kleurenfoto uit zijn portefeuille.
“North Sea, booreiland.”
“Ik zweer het u!”
“Prosper, verdomme, houd u in!”
“What did he say?”
“Flamenco tropical. She’s a dancer.”
“Sweet Brucargo, he’s a dalmatiër.”
“You say it in Spanish.”
Op die manier zullen we de hoofdpersonages onder de figuranten moeten zoeken. Van de danseres konden we daarnet al even een glimp opvangen, maar ik denk niet dat we in dit fragment ook nog kennis zullen maken met de schrijfster, haar zus en haar vriendin. De kans dat het feestvierende gezelschap hun de gelegenheid biedt om aan het woord te komen is trouwens verwaarloosbaar.”
Pol Hoste (Lokeren, 25 maart 1947)
Ik eet al dagen niet. Ik loop met zijn portret
voor mijn gezicht. De meeste mensen
zullen dus denken dat ik iemand anders ben
met een bekend gezicht dat vreemde dingen zegt.
We lijken even groot, maar niemand weet
dat ik gewicht verlies, nog meer verliezen zal.
Er hoeft maar weinig te gebeuren. Als
ik een visioen krijg, zie ik eten.
Ik laat de foto uit mijn handen vallen
en pak een bord. Ik zal hem niet vergeten.
Menno Van der Beek (Rotterdam, 25 maart 1967)
Uit: A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories
“She wouldn’t stay at home for a million bucks,” June Star said. “Afraid she’d miss something. She has to go everywhere we go.”
“All right, Miss,” the grandmother said. “Just re- member that the next time you want me to curl your hair.”
June Star said her hair was naturally curly.
The next morning the grandmother was the first one in the car, ready to go. She had her big black valise that looked like the head of a hippopotamus in one corner, and underneath it she was hiding a basket with Pitty Sing, the cat, in it. She didn’t intend for the cat to be left alone in the house for three days because he would miss her too much and she was afraid he might brush against one of her gas burners and accidentally asphyxiate himself. Her son, Bailey, didn’t like to arrive at a motel with a cat.
She sat in the middle of the back seat with John Wesley and June Star on either side of her. Bailey and the children’s mother and the baby sat in front and they left Atlanta at eight forty-five with the mileage on the car at 55890. The grandmother wrote this down because she thought it would be interesting to say how many miles they had been when they got back. It took them twenty minutes to reach the outskirts of the city.
The old lady settled herself comfortably, removing her white cotton gloves and putting them up with her purse on the shelf in front of the back window. The children’s mother still had on slacks and still had her head tied up in a green kerchief, but the grandmother had on a navy blue straw sailor hat with a bunch of white violets on the brim and a navy blue dress with a small white dot in the print. Her collars and cuffs were white organdy trimmed with lace and at her neckline she had pinned a purple spray of cloth violets containing a sachet. In case of an accident, anyone seeing her dead on the highway would know at once that she was a lady.”
Flannery O’Connor (25 maart 1925 – 3 augustus 1964)
I HOPE TO BE CURED OF YOU one of these days. I have to quit smoking you, drinking you, thinking you. It’s possible, following the moral guidelines of our times. I prescribe time, abstinence, solitude.
Would you mind if I loved you for only a week? It’s neither too much nor too little. It’s plenty. In a week one can gather up all the words of love that have ever been uttered and set them ablaze. I’m going to ignite you with this bonfire of burned-out love. And silence too. Because the finest words of love are between two people who say nothing.
We will have to burn this other lateral and subversive language of the lover as well. (You know I am really telling you I love when I say: “It’s getting hot,” “Give me water,” “Do you know how to drive?”, “Night has fallen”… Among the people, in the midst of your folks and mine, I have said to you, “It is late,” and you knew that I was saying, “I love you.”)
One week more to gather up all the love of time. To give it to you. So you can do whatever you want with it: keep it, caress it, throw it away. It serves no purpose, that much is certain. I only want one week to figure things out. Because this is a lot like leaving a lunatic asylum to enter a graveyard.
Vertaald door Colin Carberry
Jaime Sabines (25 maart 1926 – 19 maart 1999)
“Er zijn zo ontzettend weinig liève schrijvers”
Peter Van Straaten (Arnhem, 25 maart 1935)
Uit: Those Bones Are Not My Child
“You dial the school. The woman who answers tells you there’s no one in the building. You want to scream, point out the illogic of that, and slam down the phone. But you wheedle, you plead, you beg her to please check, it’s an emergency. You can tell by the way she sucks her teeth and sets the receiver down that you’re known in that office. You’ve been up there often about incidents they called “discipline” and you called “battering.” Things weren’t tense enough in Atlanta, teachers were sending “acting-out problems” to the coach to be paddled. In cut-off sweats, he took a wide-legged stance and, arms crossed against his bulging chest, asked, since it wasn’t your child sent to him for punishment, what is your problem?
Exactly what the principal had wanted to know when the parents broke up the PTA meeting, demanding security measures in the school. Never enough textbooks to go around; students would linger after school to borrow each other’s, then, having missed the bus, would arrive home to an hysterical household. The men voted to form safety patrols. The principal went off: “There will be no vigilantes in my school!”
City under siege. Armed helicopters overhead. Bullhorns bellowing to stay indoors. The curfew pushed back into the p.m. hours. Gun stores extending sales into the a.m. hours. Hardware stores scrambling to meet the demand for burglar bars, deadbolt locks, alarms, lead pipes, and under-the-counter cans of mace and boxes of pellets. Atlanta a magnet for every bounty hunter, kook, amateur sleuth, sooth-sayer, do-gooder, right-wing provocateur, left-wing adventurer, porno filmmaker, crack-shot supercop, crackpot analyst, paramilitary thug, hustler, and free-lance fool. But there should be no patrols on the principal’s turf. “Unladylike,” you heard the gym teacher say when you led the PTA walkout. But how do you conduct a polite discussion about murder?”
Toni Cade Bambara (25 maart 1939 – 9 december 1995)
Uit: The Saint
“It thus happened that towards the end of April Noemi was with the Dessalles at Bruges. They occupied a small villa on the shore of the little mirror of water called “Lac d’Amour.” Carlino had fallen in love with Bruges and especially with the Lac d’Amour, the name of which he contemplated giving to the novel he dreamed of writing. As yet, however, the novel existed only in his brain, while he lived in the pleasant anticipation of one day astonishing the world with an exquisite and original work of art.
“En tout cas,” Noemi replied—”not with all my heart.”
“Because I am thinking of giving my heart to another person.”
“To a monk.”
Jeanne shuddered, and Noemi, to whom her friend had confided the story of her hopeless love for the man who had disappeared, buried in the hidden solitude of a cloister, trembled lest she had erred in thus lightly introducing a subject with which her mind was much occupied.
“By the way, what about Memling,” she said, colouring violently, “we were going to talk about Memling.”
She spoke in French, and Jeanne answered gently:
“You know you must speak Italian.”
Her eyes were so sad and despairing that Noemi took no notice of her reproof, and continued in French, saying many endearing things, and begging for a loving word and a kiss. Both were willingly bestowed. Noemi did not at once succeed in restoring her friend to her usual calm; but Jeanne, smoothing back Noemi’s hair from her brow with both hands, and following the caressing gesture with her eyes, begged her gently not to be afraid that she had wounded her. Sad she was indeed, but that was no new thing. True she was never gay. This Noemi admitted, but to-day the cloud of sorrow seemed heavier than ever. Perhaps it was the fault of l’Intruse. Jeanne said, “Indeed it must be so,” but with a look and an accent that implied that l’Intruse who had made her so sad was not the imaginary being in Maeterlinck’s book but the terrible Reaper in person.”
Antonio Fogazzaro (25 maart 1842 – 7 maart 1911)