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Two in the morning and a blank screen. My protagonist is sitting in an armchair, in one hand a cigarette and in the other a cup of cognac. He’s carefully reworking some scenes. There. The stranger sleeps with perfect calm. Then she rubs his shoulders. Then she says not to walk her to the station. There you pick up a signal, the tip of the iceberg.

The stranger assures him she hadn't planned on sleeping with him. Friendship —her smile now enters the wrinkle zone— doesn't presuppose any sort of hell.

It's odd, from here it seems my protagonist is swatting flies with his left hand. Surely I could transform his angst into fear if he were lift his gaze and see, in the decayed rafters, a rat's beady eyes fixed on him.

Crack, his heart. Patience like a gray tape inside the kaleidoscope you turn over again and again.

And if the protagonist were to speak of happiness? Does happiness begin in his twenty-eight-year-old body?

Roberto Bolaño
Translation from Laura Healy

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The Unknown University (2007)
español Original version