A selection of favourite passages from the book
• I could see the room was completely empty. “There’s no place to sleep,” I said. “Don’t worry about that. You must be tired from your journey, and weariness makes a good mattress
• I swallow foamy saliva; I chew clumps of dirt crawling with worms that knot in my throat and push against the roof of my mouth. . . . My mouth caves in, contorted, lacerated by gnawing, devouring teeth. My nose grows spongy. My eyeballs liquefy. My hair burns in a single bright blaze.. . . .” He was surprised by Susana San Juan’s calm. He wished he could divine her thoughts and see her heart struggling to reject the images he was sowing within her
• The road rose and fell. It rises or falls depending on whether you’re coming or going. If you are leaving, it’s uphill; but as you arrive it’s downhill
• That town sits on the coals of the earth, at the very mouth of hell. They say that when people from there die and go to hell, they come back for a blanket
• The picture of my mother I was carrying in my pocket felt hot against my heart, as if she herself were sweating
• I can’t break her of that habit, but it’s too late now.
• Then he heard the weeping. That was what woke him: a soft but penetrating weeping that because it was so delicate was able to slip through the mesh of sleep and reach the place where his fear lived
• Through the door he could see the dawn. There were no stars. Only a leaden gray sky still untouched by the rays of the sun. A drab light that seemed more like the onset of night than the beginning of day
• I’m suspicious of my own shadow.
• Every sigh is like a drop of your life being swallowed up
• Suddenly it will thunder. And rain. Maybe spring’s on its way. You’ll get used to the “suddenlys” there, my son.
• Hope? You pay dear for that
• And even if I had looked up, what good would it have done? The sky is so high and my eyes so clouded that I was happy just knowing where the ground was
• We live in a land in which everything grows, thanks to God’s providence; but everything that grows is bitter. That is our curse
• console you with my own inconsolable sorrow
• there is no memory, however intense, that does not fade