There’s a secret sickness called Lisa. Like all sicknesses it’s miserable and it comes on at night. In the weave of a mysterious language whose words signify without exception that the foreigner “isn’t well.” And somehow I would like her to know that the foreigner is “having a hard time,” “in strange lands,” “without much chance of writing epic poetry,” “without much chance of anything.” The sickness takes me to strange and frozen bathrooms where the plumbing works according to an unexpected mechanism. Bathrooms, dreams, long hair flying out the window to the sea. The sickness is a wake. (The author appears shirtless, in black glasses, posing with a dog and a backpack in the summer somewhere.) “The summer somewhere,” sentences lacking in tranquillity, though the image they refract is motionless, like a coffin in the lens of a still camera. The writer is a dirty man, with his shirtsleeves rolled up and his short hair wet with sweat, hauling barrels of garbage. He’s also a waiter who watches himself filming as he walks along a deserted beach, on his way back to the hotel . . . “The wind whips grains of sand” . . . “Without much chance” . . . The sickness is to sit at the base of the lighthouse staring into nothing. The lighthouse is black, the sea is black, the writer’s jacket is also black.
Roberto Bolano, from Antwerp