from Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra

Talking to her again was good and perhaps necessary. I told her about the new novel. I said that at first I was keeping a steady pace, but little by little I had lost the rhythm, or the precision.

“Why don’t you just write it all at once?” she advised, as if she didn’t know me, as if she hadn’t been with me through so many nights of writing.

“I don’t know,” I answered. And it’s true, I don’t know.

The thing is, Eme–I think now, a little drunk–I’m waiting for a voice. A voice that isn’t mine. An old voice, novelistic and solid.

Or maybe it’s just that I like working on the book. That I prefer writing to having written. I’d rather stay there, inhabit the time of the book, cohabit with those years, chase the distant images at length and then carefully go over them again. See them badly, but to see them. To just stay there, looking.

translated by Megan McDowell

from The Private Lives of Trees by Alejandro Zambra

Now Julian has a real family, the kind that spends Saturday afternoons doing science homework or watching Tim Burton movies. Daniela has just fallen asleep, and he strains his ears, anticipating his wife’s arrival, but he can only make out, distantly, the hoarse bubbling of the aquarium they set up in the living room a few months ago. Stealthily, Julian approaches Cosmo and Wanda, who continue with their changeless voyage through the dirty water, and he observes them with disproportionate attention, his face to the glass. Suddenly, theatrically, Julian takes on the attitude of a watchman, a fish watcher, a man specially trained to keep fish from leaving aquariums.