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Travel

Transit

At Heathrow, three hours before her flight to Boston, Thandi was in one of the shower rooms below the Galleries lounge in Terminal 5. A previous tenant—someone who, at some point in the day, had been in there before her, before every inch of the shower room was cleaned, its towels and various amenities replaced—had left a trace of themselves; the radio on, the dial turned to Classic FM. 

After the Old City

Lahore is Lahore, the saying goes. For the twelve million who, until recently, made their way through its streets every day, that is all that needs to be said. For the others—the foreign, the displaced—it is an idea, resisting definition. Before the pandemic emptied the streets, I landed in a city I could still move through freely.

Illustration by Abigail Piña Rocha Carlisle

Murmurs on the Plain

Rulfo’s literary reputation rests on just two slim books—the short story collection El Llano en llamas (The Plain in Flames), first published in 1953, and the novel Pedro Páramo, released two years later. Pedro Páramo would arguably go on to become the defining novel of Mexico’s twentieth century, inspiring the writers of Latin America’s “Boom” generation and helping to usher in a new age of literature across the continent.

Lisa Golightly, <em>Flood Line 333</em>, 2015.

Lines of  Sight

The town of Dunwich, once a thriving medieval port on England’s Suffolk Coast, has for centuries been crumbling into the sea. All that now remains of the old structures is a small collection of hilltop ruins, flanked by a nineteenth-century church and a handful of newer homes built far from the water’s edge. Served by a single pub and a few guesthouses, the local economy has long catered principally to visitors, many of whom are part of a long line of artists and poets who have been drawn here since the Victorian age to contemplate the town’s picturesque decay. 

Franz Kafka, a drawing from Diaries, 1910–1923, 1948.

The Missing Person

In July 1908, a twenty-five-year-old Franz Kafka quit his post at the Assicurazioni Generali with a medical note claiming he was suffering from “nervousness” and something potentially complicated having to do with his heart.

Illustration by Lizzy Stewart

Santa Tecla

The hotel where she had hoped to spend a very happy week was in a small village in Tuscany at the end of two trains and a bus, facing a wheat field.

Illustration by Ryan Floyd Johnson

Stray Fragments

Think about losing things when you are a child, and how losing things thrusts you into a state of absolute despair, even if what you lost is relatively unimportant: toothbrush, sweater, homework folder.

Adults. We are like balloons inflated to their largest capacity and then thrown into the air, unknotted: darting, hissing, flying, farting through the room to the delight of children who will step on them when they finally fall—deflated, useless.

If time in our lives could be shuffled—if it were sectioned into discrete events and recombined—would the story add up? Or does there need to be some kind of order, even if it’s not chronological, for the pieces to form a narrative?

Nuestros hijos llevan todo el día rascándose tan fervorosamente la cabeza que uno de ellos se había sacado ya sangre y ahora daba alaridos de pavor al ver que en su dedo índice titilaba una gotita rosa.

Nos sentamos en una banca y me dispuse a espulgarle la cabellera. Me entretuve aniquilando colonias enteras de piojos y liendres.

 

The light of the desert, where we are headed—I imagine it very different from this one. I imagine it a brutal, empty, future light.

Where is the heart of the United States?

It’s somewhere in the border.

Holiday Review

We stayed one night at Karl’s place in Jimena de la Frontera in southern Spain. Let me begin with the PROs.

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