Excerpt from that novel still in progress (but getting there, at last)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

She names a year:  1939.  She names a city:  Triana.  She tells me about a basement bar thick with people hiding from the bad news of the day.  Old corrida posters on the wall, she says.  The smoke of bad cigars.  Short women with big necks talking crazy with their hands, and men thumbing a short deck of cards.  A little stage, up in front, with a stool, and two long tables that you couldn’t walk between at midnight when everyone was sitting three-deep in.  The bar was the thing, then.  The only thing they had.  The best Stella’s parents could make of the city they’d escaped to after they had escaped from Madrid. 

“They only knew taverns,” Stella says.  “They only knew food.”

The nights in Triana were blue, Stella says.  The milk was thinned to blue.   The mussels had a blue attitude and were lazy.  The bread was sometimes all there was—bad bread and cheap rojo, cracked from barrels.  There were already so many dead and those who weren’t dead were like nothing people, dead in the eyes, loose around their bones.  It was October 1939, and the war had been over since April, but Spain wasn’t the Spain any of them had known for it now belonged to Franco.  It was the church against the people, the anarchists against the nuns, the Civil Guard against civilians, the extremists forcing politics onto farmers and working stiffs.  It was dead people hanging from chopo trees. Doctors who weren’t allowed to practice.  Teachers selling charcoal in the street.  Lawyers sleeping in cemeteries.  Priests without churches.  Spain was the Moors of Maria Luisa Park who said they’d been tied to the wings of the German planes.

“Tied to the wings?”


There were not enough bars, Stella says.  There was nothing for anyone to do, nowhere to go, it was nothing hoping for nothing.  Stella was eighteen, the cook.  At night the people came for what they could find, which was wine and poor tapas and flamenco.  “Hating Franco,” Stella says, “made us one people.”


reiko rizzuto said...

I can't wait to read it!

Becca said...

This passage captures the mood of a place and its people, and leaves the reader wanting more, more, more.

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