Book of the Week: “03” on a streetcorner

“From the bus stop across the street it was hard to tell, but suddenly I understood, seeing the passengers in the van that collected her every morning, that she was slightly retarded.

Once you knew, it was easy to make sense of her thin adolescent frame, her black hair spiking up on her little head as though she were enduring some slow, endless horror, her eyes, like that of a heroine in a Japanese cartoon forced open onto the real world, eyes so round and so opaque that if they’d focused on me, I might almost have picked them up like two black marbles rolling in the gutter at my feet.”

Ask not why this book drives me to distraction with it weird lust and frustration, its setting a bus-stop, its lyrics from Joy Division, its childhood specious and a lie.

“… and I weighed up the pros and cons, what tied me to life like a blood oath, what left me cold, or tired me out; and when the noise grew sharper, more grating, and when the headlights from the first bend in the road began to cut out the sides of the buildings and project a slow revolving shadow dance on the wall, I always came back to the same conclusion  — that I felt something stir inside me, as hazy and phony as a childhood memory, as insistent as a hit song you’d heard so often you couldn’t get its bitterness out of your head, something that promised me a better future, only somewhere else….”

84 tiny pages  Valtat

About louisewleonard

Author of 52 Men, 2015. Excerpts in The Rumpus, Tin House, Fiction Advocate and Gargoyle.
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