by Enrique Vila-Matas

In the days of e-books this is an elegy to the Gutenberg age with a homage to Ulysses as its central theme. Conceptually imaginative and full of allusions, cameos and references to famous literary names, this is a haunted, melancholic novel that nevertheless maintains a degree of levity and wistful humour.


Celia sometimes talks to this shop assistant, when she goes to buy dessert on Sundays. The patisserie is so bad that she hardly has any work to do and is usually stationed in the doorway, smoking. Since Riba knows she does tarot readings, whenever he sees her he imagines asking her to tell his fortune. He imagines her inside the patisserie, dressed as a gypsy after having made a huge effort to read his future, as if she were Marlene Dietrich in Touch of Evil. A very serious laugh. Tell me my future once and for all, please, says Riba. There’s barely any light at all in the back of the patisserie. You have no future, she replies. And laughs conclusively.
Translated by Rosalind Harvey & Anne McLean


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