Bernardo Atxaga, "Pirpo and Chamberlán, Murderers"

Two guys in the time of the Spanish Civil War plot an elaborate murder/robbery.

(from The Paris Review, issue 173)

The running gag, if you can call it a gag, is that these guys believe they have carte blanch but it’s sorta tragic that they don’t know the phrase “carte blanche.” All they know is they are in charge of their own destinies during a nearly free and slightly lawless time. They are seemingly unhindered by morals and obstacles, and their brutal crimes are equated to a peculiar circus. A short and enjoyable read, with a fun, freaky outlook and a solid, satisfying end.
The mood wasn’t the same, but it still made me think of “Smith and Jones” by The Silver Jews, a song about two doomed partners in crime. “Are you honest when no one’s looking?” it asks immediately, before telling their tale: “They walk the alleys in duct tape shoes. They see the things they need through the windows of a hatchback. The alleys are the footnotes of the avenues.”
Work has been, and will be for the foreseeable future, very busy. My reading suffered this week. Let’s all hang in there.

In other news, the latest Book Quarterly in the Philadelphia City Paper, under the careful, clever leadership of my boss/pal Lori Hill, is awesome. It’s all about independent bookstores. Gotta start here with the intro. Here‘s a story on shops adapting within today’s Amazonian Borders. Here‘s the amazingly exhaustive rundown of indie bookstores in Philly. Here‘s an article on the amazing Russakoffs. This BQ kicks so much ass. (Because the web site hates its own content, these links will expire when the next paper comes out. I’ll try to remember to fix the links when the time is right.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>