Some sections from ‘The notebooks of Don Rigoberto’ that gave me multiple orgasms.
“And ever since she was a girl, Dona Lucrecia had felt a fascination for standing on the edge of the cliff and looking down into the abyss, for keeping her balance on the railing at the side of the bridge”
So Rigoberto is going nutty after Lucrecia left so he has this whole different routine where he wakes up really early in the morning to read his old notes and books by his favourite authors. He is doing some such thing one morning and begins to miss Lucrecia terribly after reading this bit of Neruda.
“And to see you urinate, in the dark, at the back of the house, as if you were pouring out a slender, tremulous, silvery, obstinate stream of honey, I would give up, many times over, this choir of shades I possess and the clang of useless swords that echoes in my soul…” – Widower’s Tango, Neruda
“Without transition he caught a glimpse of Lucrecia sitting on the toilet, and listened to the merry splash of her pee in the bottom of the bowl that received it with tinkling gratitude”
If I ever go into coma or am dying or anything, just read these words to me and I shall come flying back to life, full of love and libido.
“Lucrecia also shat, and this, rather than degrading her, enhanced her in his eyes and nostrils”
I had often wondered if good literature includes descriptions of bodily functions – nose digging, bowel movements, passing urine, inserting buds into the ear, scratching body parts which shouldn’t even be acknowledged in public et al. And after Llosa I have happily arrived at the conclusion that that kind of literature is probably the only kind that I enjoy reading the most. I also felt really happy at the thought of marrying him, having his babies and having him write about all my bodily functions.
I had the best time reading the whole nose cleansing procedure in “In praise of the stepmother”
“The magnificent Lucrecia understood everything. Nothing in the tangled labyrinth of human desires shocked her”
And now for the section that taught me what words do and how they become stories. Big, I know but as I was reading this bit, I started to register some words that were used and noticed that if I removed them, the whole damn section would suck. I noticed adjectives and the words that follow the adjectives. Here –
“The novel is constructed with deceptive simplicity, beneath which a dramatic context is depicted: the merciless struggle between reality and desire, those sisters who are bitter enemies separated by impassable distances except in the miraculous recesses of the human spirit”
I have no idea what shit is being talked about here. All I know is this passage taught me something. And something really valuable. In some sense, more than teaching me how to write, this passage taught me how to read words. I looked at all the adjectives and suddenly all writing seemed to make a whole different kind of sense to me.
“Pornography strips eroticism of its artistic content, favours the organic over the spiritual and mental, as if the central protagonists of desire and pleasure were phalluses and vulvas and these organs not mere servants to the phantoms that govern our souls, and segregates physical love from the rest of human experience”
Wait for it.
“Pornographer, while for you the only thing that counts when you make love is the same thing that counts for a dog, a monkey, or a horse- that is, to ejaculate – Lucrecia and I, go on, envy us, also make love when we are having breakfast, dressing, talking with friends, and contemplating the clouds or the sea”
I rest my fucking case.
Rigoberto has been the most complicated reading experience for me. After a point I got so impatient with the complexity of the book and my own cluelessness over what to read and how, I entered panic attack mode and had many restless nights. I cried because I wasn’t able to finish the book. I cried because I was a slow and pathetic reader. I cried because I wasn’t able to figure out if I hated Fonchito with every fibre of my being or if I wanted to hump him senseless for being a child sex bomb. Having said that and perhaps because of all that, Rigoberto will always be my most treasured reading experience.
I would like to go back to the book again very soon and this time around, if I cry it will be because I have fallen hopelessly in love with Llosa.