Countdown

Angel Olgoso, portrait by Angeles PrietoMaureen is always dragging me off to music recitals and poetry readings. The other night it was the presentation of a new book of short, short stories, in one of Granada’s many historic palaces which have been renovated by the town hall for public use. There was no way I could get out of it as the publisher, Miguel Angel Arcas of Cuadernos del Vigía is a friend, the only intellectual I know prepared to come out early on a Sunday morning to hunt mushrooms with me. So I was not about to let him down.

Astrolabio, a book by Angel OlgosoThe book, entitled “Astrolabio,” was written by Angel Olgoso, a Granada writer I was not familiar with. The presentation was the usual ritual: introduction by a local intellectual who likes to talk about himself, brief comments from the author, a few chapters (in this case stories, as they were extremely short) read by colleagues of the author in the literature business. Then the audience files out out of the room, buys the book at a table on the way out and has it autographed by the author. There follows the ritual rounds of wine and tapas at not-my-favorite bars, the compensation being that book presentations and their subsequent bodega crawls are attended by an inordinate number of attractive women.

It wasn’t till a couple of days later that I picked up the book and started to read it. I’ll spare you the literary criticism and get straight to the point. I want to share the shortest of Olgoso’s short, short stories with you. I found it a profoundly moving account of a life, done in just 14 words. You don’t believe me? Wait. First in Spanish, then I’ll translate it into English. It’s called “Cuenta Atrás:”

Siete decenios. Seis trabajos. Cinco infidelidades. Cuatro operaciones. Tres hijos. Dos latidos. Un suspiro.

“Countdown”
Seven decades. Six jobs. Five infidelities. Four operations. Three kids. Two heartbeats. One sigh.

If that didn’t give you a shiver, maybe you’re watching too much reality television.

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One Response

  1. Cracking piece!

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