Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Shirt Factory

Passages like this are why I love the writing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In this scene, the 90-year-old journalist is searching for his lover:

Still entangled in the night's cobwebs, the next day I found the courage to go to the shirt factory where Rosa Cabarcas had once told me the girl worked, and I asked the owner to show us his plant as a model for a continent-wide project of the United Nations. He was an elephantine, taciturn Lebanese who opened the doors to his kingdom in the illusory hope of being an example to the world.

Three hundred girls in white blouses with Ash Wednesday crosses on their foreheads were sewing buttons in the vast, illuminated nave. When they saw us come in they sat up straight, like schoolgirls, and watched out of the corners of their eyes as the manager explained his contributions to the immemorial art of attaching buttons. I scrutinized each of their faces, terrified that I would discover Delgadina dressed and awake. But it was one of them who discovered me with a frightening look of pitiless admiration:

"Tell me, Senor, aren't you the man who writes love letters in the paper?"

from Memories of My Melancholy Whores, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
(This novel isn't perhaps as scandalous as the title suggests, though it's certainly twisted in other ways. It actually won the LA Times top prize for fiction this year.)

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