Read an excerpt of Alvaro Enrigue’s “Hypothermia” at the White Review

Friday, March 20.

As I saw the lights of Mexico City spread out below us before landing I caught myself mentally humming the tune of ‘Volver’ – an unbearable affectation. Just as Carlos Gardel sings in that classic tango . . . the snows of time have silvered my temples. His turned silver because he was away for twenty years, mine because premature gray hair runs in my family: I’m condemned to suffer low-impact drama. I remembered my grandfather saying that Agustín Lara was a hick whose one single virtue was that he liberated us from the tango thanks to his impossible talent for composing boleros. Then I forced myself to think about Guadalupe Trigo, the later improviser of boleros, who says that at night the city dresses up like a mariachi. But that doesn’t really describe it: it’s more like the Milky Way, a sacred host of fire which you must swallow whole, without – chewing.

I wonder what Teresa would think if she could see me with so much gray hair. Since I bought a computer for my apartment and managed to get myself online, I’ve been back in touch with el Distrito Federal. They tell me that she’s been living in Mexico ever since she broke up with my student, that when she runs into one of our mutual acquaintances she always asks about me. I doubt that she’s weathered the silent ravages of time very well either.

My mother and my sister picked me up at the airport. I will stay with them for the weekend and on Monday I’ll go over to Raul’s apartment: my family’s house is too crowded – there I’ll be better able to practice the monkish discipline to which I’m accustomed. They’re not happy with the idea, but they realise that it’s better than nothing. I’m going to stay with Raul through the week, then on Saturday and Sunday I’ll be back with them again.

Click here to read the extract at the White Review

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